Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Thank goodness for good lighting

The sun came out this afternoon, and the combination of the afternoon sun and all the light reflected from the 2" of snow we got last night was enough to illuminate my office sufficiently for some videotaping.

Which is a fancy way to say, check out my daughter the well-lit reading genius!

Oh, and the parts when she is staring off into space happened when she got distracted by the Hooked on Phonics game I left idling on my computer while I got her to read for the camera. I know it looks like she's having some sort of episode, but she's just really, really into that game.

The fat cat sat on the mat.

So, after completing the first lesson in the "big girl" Hooked on Phonics set earlier today, my daughter can officially read most three-letter words that end in -at. Except "sat," which for some reason she has to sound out every time she sees it, even if she just read it two words ago.

She read the little cartoon at the end of the lesson in the workbook, although I didn't manage to get it on video because I was too busy trying to be all encouraging and shit. Once we managed to convince her to actually look at the words, rather than just telling us what was happening in the picture, she got the hang of it relatively quickly. I still had to remind her that the words "is sitting in a big chair" hadn't appeared in the earlier lesson, so maybe "sat" would be a better choice, and for some reason whenever she couldn't figure out a word she thought it was funny to insist it said "pig," but after a couple repeats she had it down cold.

A few hours later (after doing nothing educational at all) there was a lull in conversation at dinner, so I wrote "The fat cat sat on the mat" on a piece of paper and handed it to her. She read her 'secret message' right away with no help (sounding out the offending word, of course), despite having never tried to read a mix of sight words and phonics words before then. So she's actually reading, not just guessing from pictures or memorizing placement in lists of words.

I don' t know who is prouder - the kid or us. No, wait - it's us. She's freaking brilliant, this one.

And she's asked me three or four times since dinner when she gets to do the next lesson. Hooked on Phonics, we love you!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Episode 38, in which I ruin a good thing by writing about it

Liza wants to learn to read. Really, really wants to learn to read.

We made Bingo cards out of the 25 most-used sight words, and she's got maybe 15 of them down pat and another few that she can sound out. She regularly points out these sight words in new circumstances (like on the Wilton cake decorating class poster in the bathroom stall at Jo-Ann Fabrics), so I know she actually can read them, not just make an educated guess. She knows all of the letter sounds, although she still mixes up Y/U/W for some reason. She likes playing the Starfall games, making fewer and fewer mistakes every day. She can reliably tell you what letter a word begins with (unless it's a weird exception, like a soft g or something), and she's a really proficient rhymer. She thinks The Electric Company DVDs she got for Christmas are the most awesome thing since Little Einsteins.

My mother-in-law got Liza the pre-K Hooked on Phonics kit for letter sounds (pre-reading) for Christmas, and Liza couldn't wait to get started. We hung up the posters, got the stickers ready, and installed the software. Now, two days later, Liza has finished all but the last five letters. She wants to finish those today so she can move on to the actual reading Hooked on Phonics kit I found at Ollies for $40. I realize she's going to have to go slower on the next one, since it will be more new material instead of just review, but it's still exciting to see her soooo pumped about reading.

Well, she's given up on trying to nap and is pestering me to finish up those last five letters, so I guess I'll stop babbling now. Wish me luck!

PS - anyone whose kids started reading before hitting kindergarten - how did you handle it? Were they really bored in school, or did the school somehow make allowances for kids who could already read? Because I'm afraid she's going to get bored and get into trouble ... not that I would know anything about that, of course.

Friday, December 26, 2008

From the mouths of babes

The last few days Liza has been waking up around 5am and wanting to sleep with us, which is fine with me, but she totally hogs Jason's side of the bed so badly that he resorts to sleeping in HER bed, just to get a break from the flying elbows and knees.

Tonight as he was getting Liza in bed, Jason told her that he wanted her to stay in her bed and not come sleep with us tonight.

"I know I'm supposed to sleep in my bed, but sometimes my body just carries me in to your room anyway."

"Well, if it carries you in there tonight, I'm just going to pick you up and carry your body back to your bed."

"That's okay, Daddy. I like when you carry me."

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Here's the official Circle of Sock Goodness, as of about 8am this morning. Shortly thereafter we shared a coffeecake that looked like it was born with a horrible deformity and then run over by a truck.
Yeah, that Bundt pan has been nothing but trouble since I bought it. That sucker's headed for Goodwill tomorrow. Good thing the coffeecake tasted better than it looked, or we'd all be in the hospital for food poisoning by now.
Hope everyone had a great day and is looking forward to a nice relaxing weekend!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve

See that? That's the last pair of socks for this year, finished before 8pm on Christmas Eve. So now I have time to wrap the last two presents and make the coffee cake for tomorrow morning and STILL get to bed before midnight. Score!

Hope everyone has a wonderful day!

(I'm done I'm done I'm done I'm done ...)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Can't blog now

Must knit. Only one more pair of socks to go by 12:00 Thursday morning. Whew.

Monday, December 22, 2008

That was a first

This year I decided to bite the bullet and buy an offical Honeybaked Ham for Christmas dinner. We've had imposters in the past, and while they were okay, for some reason I'm convinced that this one will be ambrosial. For what I paid, it had better be.

In order to procure this most crunchy of holiday entrees, I had to drive in the snow for half an hour, at which point I found out that the store was so busy they had police directing traffic for the parking lot. Like, half a dozen cops, with orange cones and "lot full" signs and the largest boom box I've seen in years blaring Christmas carols out into the scrum.

We managed to park at the restaurant next door, and I carried 40 pounds of sleeping preschooler across the icy unshoveled parking lot in 9-degree cold (with a wind chill in the negative teens) to wait in the cattle line they had set up inside the front door. Luckily, there were only a handful of people ahead of me, and they had - no kidding - eight people working to pull hams for customers, plus another four or five on cash registers, so we were out of there before Liza even woke up all the way. I still got to carry a 40-pound kid in one arm and a 10-pound ham in the other, all the way back across the ice.

And this was AFTER the $185 trip to the grocery store, when I purchased the heaviest load of groceries in recorded human history. Start off with a 25-pound bag of rock salt, five pounds of flour and a couple pounds of sugar, and it's all downhill from there. I think I was probably pushing 150 pounds of cart/kid/groceries by the time I got to the register. Let's not do that again, okay?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

My god, the cuteness - it overwhelms me

When I downloaded the photo of the Christmas lights from my phone, I also found this one, which I took while we were waiting in line for Santa at the mall a few weeks ago:
Curses! Why didn't I find this in time to make it our Christmas card this year?

Doing it right

We've gone out to dinner a couple times this week, and I made sure to drive home a different way each time so we could see different neighbors' lights. Tonight, though, Liza wanted us to go past this house again, because it's "the best one ever!"

Yes, there are strands of lights covering the whole house - including the roof - at 2' intervals.

Personally, I prefer the house in Westlake that has something like 20 different inflatable decorations in their front and side yards ... we're all about the excess when it comes to decorations, at least when someone else is paying the electric bill.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Two weeks without school or dance class?

She was home from her last dance class for less than two hours before she decided that all of her toys were boring and the most fun thing in the world was to tie one of her stuffed animals to one of my stuffed animals (a giant ostrich - don't ask), stack some Playmobil people on the back of the ostrich and drag them in circles around our house so they could "surf on the lake." Now she is running around wearing nothing but a see-through housecoat (don't ask) and a pair of mittens, randomly yelling "IT'S SNOW WORLD, EVERYBODY!!!!!!"

I knew that letting her eat that candycane was a mistake.

Gonna be a long, long two weeks around here. So, playdate anyone?


The only thing "it's beginning to look a lot like" around here is a Slurpee. Wintery mix sux.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

What should I do?

My Christmas cards are home, Jason won't be home for dinner so I don't need to cook, and MY DAUGHTER IS TAKING A NAP FOR THE FIRST TIME IN WEEKS.

(cue celestial chorus)

Wii Fit, here I come!

And I might knit more socks, too (sigh)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Here's a heaping load of indignity for you, guys!

Liza tends to shed clothes during the day, leaving a trail of discarded socks and other items behind her throughout the day. And half of the time she refuses to wear the items again, preferring to get a new pair of socks or a different skirt out of her room instead of just putting on what's sitting right in front of her. One memorable day I cleaned up six pairs of socks ... from just the living room.

At any rate, when Liza showed up in my office without her Christmas-y headband, I wasn't too worried ... I figured I'd just trip on it later or have to pull it out of the vacuum in a few days. But then I went downstairs and found what she had done with it ...
That right there is the photo of a cat weathering a huge indignity with as much pride as she can muster with a huge red bow around her neck. How Liza managed to get Bella to hold still long enough to get this on, I have no idea. What that cat puts up with ... poor thing.
While I was taking photos of Bella, Zach was laughing his head off - did you know cats can smirk, too? - so it was only fair that he be next in line.
I think he looks pretty dapper, but Zach didn't agree.
"Oh, this is so embarrassing."
"Embarrassing? You haven't even seen the beginning of 'embarrassing,' boy."

"You aren't going to post this on the computer, are you? Because the squirrel already laughs at me enough as it is ..."

Monday, December 15, 2008

Lazy Mama Designs going out of business?

Okay, so if you're at all crafty you have probably heard about this, but it could stand to be repeated here because it WILL impact my business.

The government has recently passed a rather poorly-thought-out law,
the Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act, which goes into effect February 10 2009. On the surface, it sounds good, requiring additional testing of children's toys and equipment to reduce exposure to lead and other harmful substances. Great! I'm all in favor of not poisoning our children.

The problem is, this applies to EVERY toy and children's item, not just those manufactured by large companies or places with histories of problems in the past. And the testing has to be done by an official third-party testing facility, which can charge hundreds of dollars for one test.

So, for example, the tummy time quilts I make to sell on etsy for $18-50 would have to be sent away for testing to make sure the materials and design are safe for kids. Every quilt is made of a unique blend of fabrics and a unique design, so testing one quilt won't apply to all of them. And pretty much every etsy artist who makes things for kids faces the same problem, unless they are large enough that they are mass-producing items (which includes maybe half a dozen etsy folks ... the rest of us make very limited runs of whatever we make). We're stay-at-home moms, crafty parents, owners of small businesses, people who just like to make little stuffed animals. And we're pissed.

Come February, we're going to have to make a choice - quit selling children's items, or be non-compliant and risk major fines and legal entanglements. Personally, I plan to quit selling kids stuff - the most profitable and popular part of my product line - rather than risk getting caught. And I know a lot of etsy folks feel the same way. So next Christmas, good luck finding handmade children's items that don't cost an arm and a leg ...

Unless we can modify the law. If you'd like to learn more about the topic and find a list of ways you can support artists who would be put out of business by CPSIA, pop on over to the round-up on Cool Mom Picks. Write your congressman and senator, contact the folks at the CPSC, sign the online petition, add the button to your blog.

Please take the time to look into the issue and add your voice of support, if you can. Thanks!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

What to say, what to say?

Preparing for the big recital - note the official Ballet Bun and light makeup that (mostly) concealed where she and Penelope attempted to headbutt each other Friday night. Try not to notice the worried expression.

I had to pry her off of my leg so I could help distribute programs, and by the time she was supposed to perform I was only giving about 30% odds that she would actually make it on stage. She made it, though, as did everyone else in the class, and they all made it through the dance. As was to be expected from a class of 3- and 4-year-olds, it was pretty painful to watch, but at least now we've got it over with.

Here's most of it, should you be interested. Liza is easy to spot - she's the one on the left of the front row standing stock-still for most of the song**.

But hey, at least she didn't bolt!

And the Big Girl Ending - Ta-Dah!

I got so many inquiries about the legwarmers I made for the girls as Christmas presents, I may just have to start making them to sell. What do you think?

**I told Liza how proud I was of her performance, and I asked her what it was like to be on the stage. "I stood there," she said, and I asked her what she was thinking when she stood there. "I wanted to go jump off the stage." Actually, if you watch the video closely you can tell she was scanning the crowd looking for someone (us? cookies? Santa? who can tell?), and that it was taking every bit of her effort to keep her shit together. THAT'S why I'm proud, not because she managed a couple wrong-way twirls.

I've spent the past three years telling her that being brave doesn't mean you're never scared, it just means that when you're scared you go ahead and try it anyway. I guess it finally got through to her. Brava, baby girl.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Stepping up

I was busy wrapping Liza's Christmas presents, Liza and Jason were looking for an activity, and I had a tub of cookie dough that needed to be transformed into edible somethings in time for the dance recital tomorrow. Which is why I got to see this today:Daddy-daughter bonding time over mint chocolate chip cookies.

Everybody, on the count of three ... 1, 2, 3, awwwwwwwwwww

Friday, December 12, 2008

Busy holiday-ish day

Yesterday we ventured down to the cultural center of the city to visit the winter fest at the Cleveland Botanical Garden. Long-time readers will remember that Liza and I went there the first summer we lived in Cleveland, but we haven't been back since then.

The festival stuff was mostly inside, with real Christmas trees and a gingerbread house contest that Liza really liked. Here's her favorite, a Japanese pagoda rendered in candy canes.She was also in favor of the storytime they had in the library, where she got to spread Crisco on a toilet paper tube and roll it in birdseed.

She also really liked the glass house, which features stuff from the deserts of Madagascar and the cloud forests of Costa Rica. She was interested to see that the chameleon they had was a different color than the ones at the pet store.

And she was nice enough to stop chasing butterflies long enough for me to take this photo of some orchids in the Costa Rica exhibit.

It was still early when we finished with the gardens, so we hiked across the circle to the natural history museum. We've been there a couple times before, but this time I wanted to drag her back to see the fossils to bolster a discussion we had over dinner earlier this week*. She was fine with being friendly with Steggie II long enough to get the Required Shot.

The fossils were okay, and at least this time we didn't leave the room screaming, but as far as Liza is concerned, a trip to the museum means just one thing: running up and down the hall to the planetarium exhibit about 15 million times.

I don't get it. I mean, yes, there are cool lights on the walls, and black-light circles that light up randomly on the floor, but apparently to a toddler or preschooler, this is Pink Floyd and Christmas all rolled up in one neat bundle. I wish we could get a membership to just the hallway, instead of having to pay for the whole museum, since this is where we spend most of our time.

*Jason and I both read The World Without Us, which is basically a 200-page-long thought experiment on what would happen to the earth if every single person just sort of vanished. Jason and I were talking about megafauna and how one thought is that in order to help the environment we should reintroduce the closest relatives to extinct North American megafauna (like introducing elephants to replace the mammoths that died out tens of thousands of years ago). Liza wanted to know what we were talking about, which led to 10 minutes of explaining how people are sort of messing up the planet, and how some animals aren't around anymore, and how we can learn about the animals that are gone by the fossils they left behind. And the dinosaur hall at the museum has a full mammoth skeleton and things that show the relative size of mammoths and elephants, so it was a logical extension of the conversation. Plus, I like dinosaurs, and it had been a while since I'd visited Lucy.

Liza's dance recital

Liza's teacher had the parents come in to watch the last practice before the informal recital the girls are having on Sunday afternoon. I'm guessing this was so that when half of them melt down and have to be carried from the stage in tears, the parents still got to see them perform it at least once.

It was like watching a (very cute) slow motion train wreck. There is no way any of them are going to be doing anything approaching the choreographed routine for more than 0.07 seconds. Mine was doing lots of posing, following the steps about three moves behind the teacher, and just standing there staring at me in the mirror.

Should be fun on Sunday when she gets to do it for real. At least there will be cookies!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Because I am the greatest mother in the world


  • I managed to get her to sit on Santa's lap for the first time ever!

  • Without screaming!
  • And she told him what she wanted for Christmas!

  • And she made small talk with him!

  • I didn't have to take her to see Santa 14 different times in order to build up a tolerance for bushy white bearded strangers.

  • She's the one who suggested we go to the mall so she could talk to Santa today. Wha? Since when?

  • We ran errands afterward and several people noticed her dress. She had to tell each of them in detail about visiting Santa and what she said and what he said and how great it was.


  • Her expression sort of looks like she's visiting Santa Claus, Nightmare Proctologist.

  • She wants a Sleeping Beauty dress for Christmas, which is not sitting in a bag in the back of my closet with the rest of her presents (yet).

  • Least charismatic Santa in the midwest.

  • I did have to prep her for the experience by taking her to look at the Santa near my in-law's house from about 50 feet away, and taking her to look at this Santa once or twice from increasingly closer distances, and time it so that Santa was at lunch when we got there so we had time to wait in line with the other kids and get used to the idea of the Lap of Santa.

  • $25 for a CD of the picture so I could post on the blog.

  • And I might have kind of told her that if she'd sit on Santa's lap and get a pretty picture taken, I'd let her ride the train at the mall and buy her the $4 folding brush she's been pining for from the Disney Store. So much for that stocking stuffer.

For comparison ... here's 2007's Santa photo from preschool:

And here's 2006's Santa photo from the mall in Lexington:

(sitting on my lap, not Santa's, although it really looks like it's his, doesn't it?)

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Guess what I got in the mail today?

I love love love love love love my balance board and Wii Fit. We hooked it up when Liza got home from preschool, and between setting up profiles for both of us and getting in 10 minutes of playtime each, we were on for close to two hours.

So far, I have learned that according to my BMI (and my jeans) I am slightly overweight, I'd need to lose about 25 pounds to be at my optimal BMI, and my "age" is exactly the same as my chronological age. It would be nice if it thought I was a nubile 18-year-old, but hey - at least it doesn't think I'm 70.

We've tried the slalom skiing game (oh my god, the suckiness of both of us), the hula hoop game (where I can hula with the best of them but keep getting bonked soundly in the head when they throw extra hoops to me, and Liza can't manage to get her hips to go in a circle unless I'm moving them for her), the Tree Pose (it's neat to see where your balance point is - gives you something to focus on until you fall over and crack your head open on a coffee table), and our favorite - the soccer game. Neither of us are particularly good at it - especially since Liza just rocks back and forth, back and forth, regardless of where the ball is on the screen - but we both find it hilarious when we get hit in the head by a soccer cleat, so that's motivating. I'm not sure who decided it was a good idea to include decapitated panda heads in the projectiles, but aside from the ick factor, that's pretty funny, too.

I'm actually looking forward to logging off the computer and going to play on it, which is something I have never thought about the exercise bike. That will wear off eventually, I'm sure, but in the meantime, bring on the decapitated pandas!

My only complaint so far is that I can't find an easy way to switch from one player to another - Wii Fit is pretty much designed for only one person to be using it at a time, as far as I can tell, which means that there's a lot of backtracking through menus to get to the change screen. We tempered that by having one of us play for five minutes, then switching and letting the other person play for five minutes. Like football, five minutes of game time is more like 10 or 15 minutes of real time, so it's not like we were buried in menus every time we turned around.

Now, if any of my readers out there have a Wii and are interested in purchasing a balance board, let me know - we ended up buying two of them, just to be sure we'd end up with one before Christmas. You wouldn't believe what a pain it was to find any of them - I thought we were going to have to buy one from a smelly guy on craigslist - and then all the sudden there was one at Circuit City and one at Amazon ... it was like winning the lottery.

My madeleine is a chicken nugget

We were in a hurry for lunch today, so once I managed to drag myself through the (huge) line at the fabric store, we ran through the Wendy's drive-through on our way to Liza's school. She still had two nuggets left over when we got there, and she decided she wanted to save them to reheat for a snack later on, so I left them in the car while I got her settled at school.

When I got back to the car, the lukewarm nugget smell hit me like a wall, and it smelled exactly like the dry dog food we used to feed our giant weimaraner when I was Liza's age.

This stuff came in what were probably 50-pound bags at the Southern States supply store, and I remember the chunks being the size of unshelled walnuts. How Schatzie swallowed - much less digested - that stuff, I have no idea. Then again, he was able to swallow the face of my Raggedy Ann doll with no problem, and he handled that half a ball of twine pretty well, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

So, does this say good things about the dog food (Mmmm - smells like nuggets!) or bad things about the nuggets (Gah - smells like dog food)?

Monday, December 08, 2008

Go to your room and stay there until I write a blog entry about how naughty you were

Apparently five minutes is too long to wait for cupcakes that have just come out of the oven and are 350 degrees and were specifically placed off-limits until they were cooler. I left the room for two minutes to pee and this is what I found when I got back.
Good thing this wasn't the pan of treats to take to school, or she'd be in her room for the rest of the evening.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Festive bits

I braved the cold on Friday to install our brand spankin' new LED Christmas lights around the gutters on the front of the house. I think they look quite festive, don't you?
" One inch of snow accumulation," my ass. The new lights are little white globes (see the one poking up below?), and I guess they're right about how much cooler they are than regular lights, which would have melted holes in the 2.5" of snow on the roof.
Today we dug out the interior holiday decorations and spent many grueling hours making our home suitably festive. Of course, it went faster because we had help from a fairy ...

I wish I could have caught the "I have Christmas stockings on my legs" frolicking before she decided she was done. It was classic.


Completely unrelated ... but ... I really admire how bad the Dolce and Gabbana magazine advertisements are. This month's GQ (which I read for the articles ... ahem) has an ad for their "cruise" line this season which features a huge group of people in pink and black. The concept of the ad is odd enough, but the guy who is third from the left has the largest eyebrows I have seen since my religion professor in college, and his required their own zip code. I mean seriously, this guy did NOT get any dates in high school - check him out:

This is also the company that regularly (like, every month for the last year) buys space for an ad that features a reclining David Gandy in a white swimsuit where the only thing your eye is drawn to is his enormous crotch. See:

I'd post it here, but Jason would kill me - he hates the ad, and occasionally I taunt him by taking a photo of it and sending it to him at work. I'm charming like that.

And no, I didn't know the name of the model before I just spent 15 minutes trying to find the stupid photo online. Just be glad I didn't link you to one of the 8 billion David Gandy gay fan sites I found once I was on the right track.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Please tell me ...

... that I did not just waste 30 minutes of my life watching a show about things getting blown up, washed away, plowed into, and otherwise Destroyed in Seconds. It was like watching a train wreck - you couldn't look away. Actually, it was watching a train wreck, and a couple explosions, some buildings fall over, a couple houses being swept away, two boats crashing, and a couple plane crashes. And, oh yeah, the factory where they make the fuel for the space shuttle exploded. Twice.

Damn you, Discovery Channel, and your insidiously addictive programming.

And the socks I was working on while I was watching are too large and will have to be unraveled back to the beginning ... grrr

I thought I had a few more years before this started

A few months ago I was talking about fruit with Liza, and I tried to teach her the old banana/orange knock-knock joke. She would laugh when I said it, but she got the joke wrong every single time she tried to tell it. Okay, I thought, time to move that to the back burner.

Then Tuesday, out of nowhere, she turns to me in the grocery store and says,
Knock Knock!
Who's there?
Banana who?
(giggles) Knock knock!
Who's there?
Banana who?
(giggles and snorts) Knock knock!
Who's there?
Banana who?
(bursts out laughing) Knock knock!
Who's there?
Orange who?
Orange you glad I didn't say banana?!? (would have rolled on the floor if she hadn't been strapped in the shopping cart)

I think it's safe to say that she heard somebody else telling a knock-knock joke in the past few days, because if not, her recollection is downright scary.

After about 15 repetitions of that one - when I was chastised if I didn't laugh uproariously at each punchline - she wanted me to teach her another joke. Now, I once had a teaching assistant in a chemistry lab who gave us extra credit if we turned in jokes with assignments, and in my eagerness to overachieve I amassed what may have been the largest collection of blonde jokes in the world (in 1993), but Tuesday I drew a blank. The only things I could think of were blonde jokes and Polish jokes, neither of which belong on the preschool circuit. Don't laugh - how many of you can come up with a decent, preschool-appropriate joke on demand?

So I copped out and taught her the always reliable "Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to the other side!" which she thought was the funniest thing she had ever heard. She told me that one about 10 times, and then she started making up her own version. My personal least favorite was "Why did the chicken trip and squish the other chicken all over the ground? Because it didn't like the other chicken!" At least that one sort of made sense ... I got to hear plenty of "Why did the chicken cross the road? Orange!" variations, which was interesting only because you could actually see her trying to figure out why the original jokes were funny.

I found yesterday that there are a wealth of kid-friendly jokes online, so I've been teaching her a new one when she asks (thank you, google!). But if you've got any good ones you'd like to share, hit me with them. I can only teach her chicken jokes and elephant jokes for so long :)

Oh, my, I love it when mind games work on the kid

Can't get the kid to help clean up? Pile a bunch of stuff that's supposed to be in her room on the side of the stairs. Start whispering and tell her she's a secret agent and the evil secret agents have laid a trap for us on the stairs, and the only way to defeat them is to take 5 things off the stairs and put them away in her room. Then laugh discretely at a 3-year-old's version of being stealthy.

Kid about to have a meltdown because you can't find the magic wand that matches her new pajamas, and it's too late to start a real search for it before bedtime? Tell her you'll look for it in the morning, and that you know it's important to her so you'll write yourself a note, and then write in huge block letters on a piece of scrap paper, "FIND WAND." Watch with amusement as she inspects the note carefully, pronounces it okay, and traipses off to bed with no wand. Smack self in the head at the lost opportunity to write "GO TO BED YOU LITTLE WHINER" instead of whatever you told her was on the note. Realize that she knows enough sight words now to call you on it, and decide it's best you stuck with the truth

Monday, December 01, 2008

Wii are having fun

Yeah, so my Sainted Mother-In-Law went overboard for our (early celebration of) Christmas and Jason's birthday and got us a Wii. We opened presents at about 9:30 Friday night, and Jason had that sucker set up on the in-laws' tv about 10 minutes later. Yeah, we're a little excited about it.

We spent yesterday recovering from the trip home, washing clothes and moving every single piece of furniture in our family room so there would be enough room to swing a Wii controller without knocking over anything or braining anyone. Our family room is 11 feet wide and 26 feet long, so making it look less like a bowling alley and more like an actual room was kind of on the agenda, too. How did we do?

You can't see the closest part of the room, where I've cleverly hidden the exercise bike and all of Liza's toys where you can't see them from upstairs. I'm a genius, I tell you.

The irony of all this rearranging is that we're trying to make the room look less like a bowling alley ... while setting it up for a game that turns our living room into a virtual bowling alley. Hmmm.

While you ponder that, check out the form on the kiddo, who hasn't gotten a strike yet but usually manages to remember which buttons to push to roll the ball, and who recently discovered the wonders of actually moving her Mii to correct her horrible left hook.

Where else can you play a game of bowling in bare feet and a satin costume dress?

Wait until I catch Jason unawares while he's playing Rock Band ... I'm clearing out space on my memory card for THAT video, let me tell you.

Sunday, November 30, 2008


Liza in the glow of the Little Einsteins DVD she was watching in the back seat of the car on our way home last night. It was even freakier looking in person.

Photos from the trip

Liza started off her second-ever bowling trip using the ever-reliable "granny" technique ...

Which was very successful for her ...

But by the last frame, she was feeling bold enough to bowl like the big kids a few lanes over.
Liza had a blast, expending way more energy celebrating each ball than she did actually throwing it. At least this time she didn't strand any halfway down the lane, and none of them came flying back at us (like they did a couple lanes over).

And here she is in full-on "throw leaves in the faces of your cousins as hard as you can and apologize when you put out one of their eyes with a stick" mode on Thanksgiving day.

Also? Today is the 30th of November, which means that I've completed NaBloPoMo two years running. Go, me!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

I should know better by now

We've returned from the Land That High Speed Forgot, so I've been catching up on all the blogs I read regularly. I should know better than to try to drink from a sports bottle while reading Go Fug Yourself, especially when they come up with things like ...

It's basically a hugely elaborate chastity belt -- poor Chris Brown
probably had to spend half an hour helping her peel them off after the show,
possibly while she held onto a doorframe as he pulled as hard as he could in the
opposite direction and tried to grease the wheels with hand lotion and saliva.
And if that weren't a deterrent enough to anyone invading her personal space,
her spiky bodice -- the sides of which appear to be barfing chains -- is
something I imagine strippers wore in Mordor. It's very overdone and freaky, and
I can't BELIEVE she was willing to put up with chains thwacking against her
Precious every time she moved.

You know how sometimes you burp a little stomach acid into the back of your throat and it tastes bad and stings a lot? Yeah, turns out that happens if you laugh really hard while trying not to spit Crystal Light all over your desk. I gotta go clean out my sports bottle now.

I hope to have time to go through all of the Thanksgiving photos tomorrow, but here's one to hold you for now ...

Guess what we got for Christmas ...

Friday, November 28, 2008

Clash of the (tiny) titans

One of the things I enjoyed most about yesterday's family dinner was watching Liza interact with one of her cousins (once or twice removed ... it's Jason's cousin's son), who is about 6 years old and very accustomed to getting whatever he wants. Liza is, too, and watching the two of them attempt to boss each other around and reach a stalemate was pretty funny. Usually there's a third cousin around who is slightly older than Brant (and also used to getting her way), and her absence this year meant that Brant got to be the big man on campus, I guess.

Brant would order Liza around and she would ignore him, so he would go off and pester someone else to do it. Liza would ask Brant to do something, and he would ignore her, so she would pester him incessantly until he gave in and did whatever she wanted. And both of them tend to be a little rougher than they should be, but Liza was giving as good as she was getting, so I just let them have at it.

Brant actually played with Liza much more nicely than I would have predicted, making sure she got thrown the football once in a while and playing along with her weird versions of games some of the time. She was happy to play the admiring younger kid, oohing and ahhing as he climbed trees and showed off his tractor-climbing prowess. I have a feeling I'm going to be peeling her off of our lawn mower and ornamental trees for the next few weeks ... but it was good to see them having fun.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Wait, what do I do now?

Today was the yearly clan gathering at Jason's aunt's house, and Liza was in rare form. She leapt out of the car and charged straight at Jason's uncle to give him a hug, and I think she stopped moving for about five minutes for the rest of the afternoon (and that was to eat some ice cream, so I'm not sure it counts). She played tag. She played football. She played cornhole. She threw leaves at her cousins. She played hide-and-seek. She went down to the dock to look at the fish. She watched her cousins climb trees, throw footballs, chase each other with rakes, and taunt the dog. She called out for Aunt Susan to come play with her approximately 453,000 times.

I, meanwhile, got to eat dinner while sitting at a table and having a conversation that didn't have to be shouted over a sniveling child. I helped clear the table without dragging along the weight of a child velcroed to my leg. I sat with other mothers and crocheted while we talked, for goodness sake.

She gave everyone at least two hugs and kisses before she would leave today, and I think she would have smuggled a couple cousins home with her if she hadn't been too tired to think of it.

Really, really not used to this.

Really, really glad we've finally gotten here.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Funny story

On Monday we stopped for lunch somewhere near Frederick, Maryland, where we had the chance to sit next to a family so classy the father felt it was appropriate to go out to lunch with his wife and teenage daughters while wearing a bright orange, ratty-looking t-shirt that declared "If it's got tits or tires, it's gonna be trouble."

One of the sons? boyfriends? sitting with them had very short, dark, curly hair, and despite his very light-colored skin, Liza decided he looked exactly like Barack Obama. I bet he would have really appreciated that, if I hadn't shushed her before she screamed it at the top of her lungs.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I can't feel two of my fingers anymore

Yesterday we drove from our house in Ohio to my in-law's house on the eastern shore of Maryland. We left at 6:30am, and got in around 5:30pm. I think that out of that entire 11 hours, I wasn't knitting socks for about an hour.

By last night I could no longer feel my right-hand ring or pinkie fingers. I might have been pushing myself a leeetle too hard.

But I only have 1 1/2 more socks to go before Thursday! Um, yay?

In happier news, my MIL has a new cat who is still young enough to appreciate the joys of a preschooler with a long piece of string and an abiding interest in playing with cats. Poor cat is going to have lost a pound or two of weight, just from dealing with Little Miss HEER KITTEH COME PLAY WITH ME KITTEH COME OUT FROM UNDER THE TABLE KITTEH OH ISN'T THE KITTEH CUTE COME CHASE THE STRING KITTEH KITTEH KITTEH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to go brave Wal-Mart and Target and Toys R Us and Michaels to finish up my Christmas shopping and help with my MILs.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Obligatory middle of the night post

Going to be really busy on Monday, so I'm posting a tiny piece of crap message now to take care of my NaBloPoMo obligation.

So there!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Well, that was quick

Hope nobody had their hearts set on those exact bowls, because somebody snapped them up already. Rest assured that I'll be making and listing more in early December. By then I'll be so sick of looking at socks, making 400 bowls in a row will seem like a piece of cake.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Shameless cross-promotion

One of my friends has an etsy shop that hasn't had its first sale yet, despite her attractive products and reasonable prices. Check her out, and if you buy something, tell her LazyMama sent you!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Feature my car needs

So the other day it started to snow as I was driving home from The Good Yarn Store, and the closer I got to home the worse the roads got. It was snowing a pretty fair blizzard, but the roads were mostly just slushy because they had warmed up earlier in the day. At any rate, they were worse than I thought.

I was approaching a traffic light and braked when it turned yellow, in plenty of time to stop with only light brake pressure ... only I didn't. Aside from that ominous ABS chattering, I got bupkis for stopping power. Pretty soon I was standing on the brakes and muttering wordless prayers that the people in the cross traffic lanes would notice that - hey! She's not actually slowing down! - and maybe keep from ramming into my daughter's car seat.

Luckily, I was "stopping" while sliding straight ahead, not at some weird angle, and the people in the cross traffic were polite enough to not even honk at me as I slid by. Maybe the look of panic on my face was enough to stay their honker hands. In any case, major bullets were dodged, and the rest of the trip home was uneventful.

For the past two days, though, I've been reliving the moment and trying to figure out what I would have done if the other traffic hadn't noticed my predicament. I've decided that I probably should have started honking like a maniac to let them know there was a problem, although that probably would have backfired and made them think that the people behind them were getting antsy so they should pull out right into the side of my car.

I think we all need a new feature on our cars. I'm calling mine the "OhHolyHellTheCarWon'tStopPleaseDearGodDon'tLetThemPullIntoMyLaneBecauseWe'dAllEndUpDeadAndItWouldBeMyFaultKindOfAndThatWouldReallySuckSoPleasePleasePleaseStayWhereYouAreAndPreventMyCertainDeathFromAStupidWeatherConditionFuckFuckFuck" button. Pushing it would turn on a revolving light on all sides of the car and a recording of a primeval scream. I think the button should be near the "emergency flashers" button on the dashboard, and the icon should show somebody screaming and waving his arms over his head. I'd like mine to be acid green.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Trying something new

I learned how to make these fabric bowls years ago, then promptly set that idea aside in favor of other crafts. I was looking through my stash recently, though, and I found a couple packs of hand-dyed fabrics that I thought would lend themselves to bowlage (bowling?). I think I was right:

I love these fabrics, which I purchased something like eight years ago when I was first getting into quilting. They were made by a small company in Alaska which appears to have gone out of business (or at least dropped off the Internets) since then, which is a shame. Because eventually I'm going to run out of fabric, probably before I run out of bowl ideas.

They're available in my etsy shop, of course, and would make - ahem - excellent holiday gifts. I'll have some in a purply-navy colorway coming in the weeks ahead, too, and possibly some other shapes, so let me know if there's something specific you're looking for.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Some days the extra effort just isn't worth it

I make a smiley-faced gingerbread man shaped peanut butter and Nutella sandwich, and she makes it a double amputee and declares she's done.
Bah. Humbug.

Another thing my parents would never have predicted I'd say ...

"I really need to stop eating these turnips, but they're just so good!"

The recipe that made me (and Jason, who ate even more than I did) a convert:

Turnips in Mustard Sauce, from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • about 3 pounds white turnips, rutabaga, or a combination, peeled and quartered
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup chicken, beef, or vegetable stock
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves for garnish

  1. Place the oil in a large, deep skillet that can later be covered and turn the heat to medium. A minute later, add the turnips, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the turnips begin to brown, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the stock, cover, and simmer until the turnips are tender, 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Remove the turnips to a serving bowl with a slotted spoon; keep warm. Mix the cornstarch into the mustard and stir the mixture into the pan juices. Cook over low heat until lightly thickened, a minute or two longer. Pour the sauce over the turnips, garnish, and serve.

We served these with the pork roast (which is from the same cookbook), and they were really good together.

Just be warned - gaseous turnip eruptions can be deadly.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Dear Mother Nature,

I respect that autumn is a season of transition. I understand that it is a woman's perogative to change her mind.

But could you just make an f-ing decision and stick with it already?

It was sunny and 45F when I dropped Liza off at preschool at noon. My neighbor was raking leaves (again) with no hat, no gloves, and her coat unzipped. The cats were basking in the front window.

Now?I'm going to have to dig out Liza's snowsuit and gloves before I pick her up in 10 minutes.

Note to self: Park in the garage in the winter, even when it's sunny and you're only going to be home for two hours anyway. Where is that ice scraper, anyway?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

What I did today

  • Slept until almost 10am. This cold is kicking my ass, and I'm going to take advantage of every opportunity to shirk my parenting duties while Jason is at home. Because tomorrow he'll be gone all day and I'll be stuck with Snotty McWhineypants and my own hacking cough. It'll be a blast!
  • Raked leaves in a snowstorm. Whee.
  • Walked with Liza while she rode her Big Wheel around the block in a snowstorm. It wasn't even snowing when we started, and the wind was at our backs all the way down our street, but we turned the corner and it was like someone dropped us in Alaska. By the time she got so cold she had to have a tantrum and be carried the rest of the way home (fun), the front of my coat was entirely coated in snow, and her sneakers were soaked through. She was a trouper right up until we got 2/3rds of the way around, though, and I think if she'd had snow boots and better mittens ... and maybe a snowmobile helmet ... she'd have done fine. As it was, it was a great way to introduce her to the idea of the microwave-heated rice pack. She played with it for an hour after her feet thawed out.
  • Coughed.
  • Knit socks while my daughter used her desk as a pretend computer. You can tell we've been watching too much PBS when she is pretending to type and saying things like, "Okay, now we go online to pbskids dot org. There's lots of games there. Okay, I pick web site 51 ... and ... ENTER!" Then she started spouting off the web address for the local public radio station, and I decided it might be time to listen to kid music during dinner prep from now on.
  • Coughed.
  • Took Liza to the mall for lunch and some shopping. The mall was packed - economic slowdown my ass - and she was very good about staying with me and walking the whole time. The mall was in full-on Christmas mode, lacking only a man in a fat suit and beard to complete the illusion that It's Not Actually Six Weeks Before The Holidays. It was so persuasive I was tempted to buy stuff for people we have sworn we're not buying for this year. I managed to resist. We ate, bought her some new snowboots and gloves (see point #3), got her a sample of lotion to use at bedtime, rode the escalator in JC Penney, and got her out of the Disney store with no tears or tantrums. I'd call that a success, wouldn't you?
  • Made banana bread while listening to a Beastie Boys CD. Coughed. A lot.
  • Realized that after making the banana bread, I no longer had enough eggs to make brownies.
  • Sent Jason to the convenience store to get eggs because I've been wanting to make brownies for like a week now.
  • Coughed. And made brownies.
  • Ate nothing but banana bread and brownies for dinner. That's a balanced meal, right?
  • Finished most of our Christmas shopping online. Go, etsy and Amazon! I've got a couple gift cards to grab from the grocery store, and I'm D-O-N-E done. Because, you know, there's only six weeks until the holiday.
  • Coughed.
  • Took cold medicine that is doing absolutely nothing for my postnasal drip and cough, but will nevertheless keep me wired until 1am as a side effect. Stupid cold medicine. On the positive side of things, I'll bet I can have my mother-in-law's sock done by then if I get off the computer and start working.
  • Did I mention the coughing? Gahhhhh.

ETA: It's 1am, the sock is done, and I'm still wired. Must. Not. Start. Another. Sock.


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Just in case anyone forgot

I do sell stuff online, you know, and the holiday shopping season is pretty much upon us.

If, like us, you celebrate the holidays really early with part of your family, FEAR NOT! I can still get stuff shipped to you before you leave for Thanksgiving ... or ship directly to wherever you'll be celebrating. Heck, tell me when you order and I'll even wrap the sucker for you!

So click on over from my sidebar and buy something already!

Or just tell me how awesome my stuff is, whichever you'd rather.

But the compliments aren't going to buy me a new computer next year, is all I'm saying.