Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Liza says: Liza's first sledding day

We went sledding. It was a big hill. There were a few other people there. It was very, very cold. I wore snow pants, and a jacket, and an extra-fuzzy sweatshirt, and my new very new gloves. I had lots of trouble getting the gloves on.

Daddy went with me the first time. We had to walk to the top of the hill and Daddy pulled the sled. Then when we got to the top of the hill, we sledded down. We went fast! It was fun.

Mommy went, too. And then I went by myself! I went down half of the hill the first time, then I went to the top of the hill and slid down all by myself! And then I had to pull the sled by myself back to the top. And one time, when I was trying to pull the sled up, I accidentally let go and the sled started to slide down and then I started running and when I caught on to the sled I let it make me slide down!

Afterwards we went to Taco Bell, and then after we went to Taco Bell, we went to the ice skating rink. There were lots of people there, but I didn't mind. We saw Mrs. Craft, my teacher from last year at preschool. I skated very, very well. I did five swizzles in a row and then started skating again! Daddy and Mommy went skating, too. Daddy got to wear extra special skates - hockey skates! And I had to wear just brown and black skates, and Mommy got to wear her all-white skates.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Virtual Christmas, part 5: Ho!

And yea, verily, there was much rejoicing with new toys and old friends!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Virtual Christmas, part 4: Behind the scenes

Pirates - you can tell they're pirates because they yell things like "AHOY" and "MATEY" at random intervals - sing taunts to each other to the tune of carols, fire crackles in the hearth, and Playmobil people frolic in a Duplo zoo.

Liza is wearing the same outfit for the second day in a row, and the waistband is now so loose that she gets plumber's butt every time she stands up straight.

Nat King Cole might be playing on the radio while we eat dinner, but only because we've put a moratorium on the Bob Marley CD after hearing it for the 4,000th time this week.

Liza is actually helpful when she assists us with the preparation of the lasagna for dinner tomorrow night. That cottage cheese mixture didn't stir itself, you know.

For the first time ever, Santa's elves didn't assemble all the presents before they got here, so I had to lend some assistance in the late hours of the evening ... and then find a place to stash a trampoline until Christmas morning.

I breathe a sigh of relief when the kid is in bed and asleep, then cringe at the thought that I can no longer threaten her with, "Do you want me to call Santa on his cell phone and tell him that you're doing that? He can turn that sleigh right around and go home if you're bad, you know." Until next December, of course ...

Jason and I debate the merits of "eating all the carrots we left for the reindeer" vs. "nibbling pieces off of the carrots we left for the reindeer," because we know the kid will eventually parse the entire setup, detail by detail. We decide to eat all the carrots, because it's not like Santa was going to haul is soot-covered-fur-clad butt down the chimney again to drop the leftover carrot bits back on the plate once the reindeer were done.

All that's left is to sneak into her room to deposit a present under her tree, then knock myself unconscious so I have some chance of being awake when she storms into our room before the crack of dawn tomorrow. Ho, ho, ho.

Virtual Christmas, part 3: Making Merry

It wouldn't be Christmas without some serious baking going on around here.
This year I decided to use up some leftover Halloween candy to make stained glass cookies. Basically, you crush up hard candy (in our case, Dum-Dum lollipops) and sprinkle them in cut-out holes in whatever sugar cookie recipe you usually use.

In the oven they get all melty and gooey and bubbly, but once they come out and cool down, the sugar hardens into a pretty center.

Honestly, the pretty parts don't taste that great unless you're using expensive candies, but they sure look nice. We did some oversized ones like this to include with the cookies we're giving to neighbors and friends.

As you can see from the background in that picture, we got a bit of snow earlier this week. Not the 2 feet that are keeping my parents stuck on the east coast, but enough that we've had to go outside to play in it almost every day. There isn't enough for a proper snowman, and until recently it hasn't been the right consistency for snowballs, so we've been stuck with snow angels and tromping around aimlessly ... until now:

Of course, it's supposed to start raining soon, and continue through Christmas day, but it was nice to have snow on some days when we had nowhere we needed to go and nothing that had to be done.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

This one's for you, Percy

Virtual Christmas, part 2: Caroling

We're full service around here - we bring the Christmas carols right to you, and don't even ask for wassail in return!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Virtual Christmas, part 1

Since some (well, actually ALL) of our extended family is unable to join us for Christmas this year, I'm doing the next best thing and bringing our Christmas to them ... online. It's like real Christmas, only with all the really boring parts edited out! Also, virtual cookies are calorie-free, and nobody has to suffer through traveling the entire length of the Pennsylvania Turnpike in order to participate.

Without further ado, I bring you ...

Virtual Christmas, Part 1: Liza's Pre-school Christmas Concert

Best buddies, trying not to look nervous before the show:

The concert, with all the non-Liza parts edited out:

And no, the irony of having my daughter be a "wise man" was not lost on me.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Dang, now why didn't I think of that?

I still think the funniest thing is that some of our friends' kids used to use the Playmobil baby Jesus as a purchase at the Playmobil grocery store. I wonder how much a savior costs?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I guarantee this will make you smile

Liza's newest obsession: Boogie Woogie Hedgehog, which she acts out with the hedgehog figure from one of her Playmobil sets. Here's her inspiration:

Once our hedgehog has "got his head stuck in the Pharaoh's hat," Liza performs Boogie Woogie Badger, and Raccoon, and Kitten, and whatever else she can manage to get stuck in something else. I knew the advent calendar would come in handy for something ...

Good times, good times.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

My child is a Speshul Snowflake**

Remember last year's winter dance recital, with the cute hairdo and the almost complete lack of dancing by my daughter?

This year we almost didn't get that much, as we spent all day listening to "I don't want to go. I don't want to go. I don't want to go." Listen to that for half a day, and I'm inclined to either shoot her or pull her out of dance classes entirely. After a great deal of bargaining, reasoning, and chocolate-coated bribery, we got her there, and she was doing okay-ish ...


... right up until it was time for the show to start, and she started blubbering like a bad soap opera actress. I was in the audience, she was sitting with the rest of her class in front of the stage, and I was very close to just calling the whole thing off ... but she pulled herself together.

"If I look interested enough in this dot-to-dot, maybe they won't make me go on stage."

At least, she did until it was time for her to perform with her class, at which point the waterworks started again, and she had to be carried on stage (not by me). After a 10-second pep talk by her dance teacher, we got to see her dance, on stage, in public, for realz, for the first time ever.

And she was fine the whole time, doing way more of her dance than I expected, managing to not freak out when the entire class managed to blank out during the whole "switch lines front to back" part at the end, and even sort of smiling for the pictures at the end.

And then she sat and watched the rest of the acts, and was all set to go sing in the big finale ... until she somehow managed to pinch her finger while she was waiting to go onstage, and she completely lost it, and I got to stand off to the side with my irritable crying child. Yes, out of seventeen acts and probably 70 kids, mine was the only one that cried. At all. The entire night. She didn't even want to go up and get her goody bag from her teacher, and usually the promise of candy canes is enough to get the kid to walk through walls of flames.

Turns out, she was just holding out for the floral tribute, courtesy of Daddy.

"Why yes, I was perfect - why do you ask?"

I swear, every time we do something like this, it takes six months off of my life expectancy, and it exponentially raises the amount we need to contribute to the kid's Future Therapy Fund. I so very much want to pull her out of dance classes, but she claims she loves dance with a passion that burns like a thousand suns. Never mind that I have to coax her into dressing for class, drag her to class, and she never is excited about anything at class other than whether she got a good sticker and/or got to turn on the lights in the room. At the very least I think I'm going to have her skip the spring recital, because I am just not up to having to pay $100 for costumes and tickets so that I can deal with this two years in a row.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Oh, hai. Are you still here? Here, have a cookie recipe, it will make you feel better.

Here's a new cookie recipe, courtesy of Liza pointing to a picture of a cookie and my tweaking of a recipe in my first edition copy of the Betty Crocker Cooky Book (published in 1963 and laboriously hunted down in an antique shop in Avon, Ohio, in 2000). Best. Cookbook. Ever.

And these cookies are pretty darn good - light, crispy, buttery, lots of orange flavor that's not overpowering, crunchy sugar on the outside, festive but still appropriate when it's not Christmas ... are you drooling yet? You should be.

adapted from Petticoat Tails/Kaleidoscope Cookies (makes 5 dozen)

1 cup butter
1 cup sifted confectioners' sugar
1 tsp orange extract
2 1/4 cups Gold Medal Flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp finely grated orange rind
food coloring
decorator sugar
red cinnamon candies

Mix butter, sugar, and extract thoroughly. Mix flour, salt, and orange rind; stir in. Mix with hands. Add food coloring to tint to desired color. Mold in rolls about 2" across. Wrap in waxed paper; chill several hours or overnight.

Heat oven to 400 F. Cut roll into slices about 1/8" thick. Roll the edge of each slice in decorator sugar. Place a little apart on ungreased baking sheet and press a red cinnamon candy into the center of each cookie. Bake 8 to 10 min., or until barely browned.

The original recipe was double this size, and it specified you could use vanilla, rose, wintergreen, or almond extract. The orange was my idea, as was the addition of the rind, which I got from two little tangerines I had in the fridge. The cinnamon candies were my idea, too, mainly because I know the rest of my family won't eat them, so the half of the recipe I baked with candies is safe from predation.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Guess who bought a printer/scanner on Black Friday?

... and finally figured out how to use the scanner after the fifth failed installation attempt?

"Best Piece of Art Liza Ever Made," by Liza Woods, 2009

Monday, November 30, 2009

Holy crap, how cool is that?

There's a great horned owl calling from the backyard of one of our neighbors. It's only hooting every few minutes, so I can't exactly record it to share ... but just imagine it's like this, only without the snow:

Want a cool closeup of how the owls hoot without even opening their mouths? Check out this video.

ETA: 10 minutes, still calling. Wookin' pa nub, in all da wong paces ...

Sunday, November 29, 2009


This is the time of year when I look at all the catalogs and commercials enviously, thinking how nice it would be to have this or that. Wouldn't it be fun to shop for new Christmas ornaments and decorations, find just the right festive handmade gift on etsy, or buy cute holiday clothing before the actual holiday?

I visit my friends' houses and see their holiday decorations tastefully sprinkled throughout. Their decorations seem to have a home - they fit with the rooms, with their lives. I doubt any of them have to scrub the cat hair off of the baseboards before they put up their trees. And we seem to be the only ones who have a ton of Christmas decorations but no flat surfaces to put them on ... our everyday stuff expands instantaneously to fill every available open space, so a table can be clean at noon and full to overflowing by dinnertime.

And then I read "my" blogs, the ones I subscribe to, written (mostly) by crafty ladies I admire. Their families celebrate simply, bypassing the mall for the handmade, trading the tinsel for a warm fire and good friends. The decorations their children make are adorable, and take center stage in their holiday scenes. Their photos of their holiday preparations practically glow with love and warmth and intention, making the commercial holiday onslaught seem that much more tacky.

They make advent calendars from toilet paper tubes and used security-printed envelopes, and they look adorable. Some skip Christmas and celebrate Solstice instead. They hand-make each and every gift they give, and they never report anyone complaining and asking for a gift card next year.

And each year, I have to decide who I'm going to be this year. Mall rat? Decorator? Crunchy granola matriarch? Part of me wants to do each. I want the thrill of the hunt, and the chance to be the one who finds the perfect, over-the-top gift for each person. I want to have the cozy, glowing home with tasteful decorations that photograph well. I want to skip the craziness, make hot cocoa, and tell stories by the fire.

When we moved to this house almost three years ago, I had to face up to the fact that the decorating strategies I had used at the house in Kentucky just weren't going to work here. Our house is 1,000 square feet smaller than the one in Kentucky, for one thing, and it's a totally different style. A brass hunting horn on the wall in Kentucky looks festive - but on the wall of a 1970s split level in Cleveland, it looks ridiculous. So we've been weeding through the decorations each year, sending some on their way to Goodwill and keeping the ones that fit best. Wreaths that used to hang in every front window of our house with a candle burning every night of the holiday season? Gone, because we have a total of 1 window on the front of this house. Icicle lights we used to hang along the straight front roof of the house? Gone, because they inexplicably have burned out at both ends but shine in the middle 1/3, so even if I wanted to use the tangly little bastards, they'd look dumb.

I think this year we'll be paring down the candle selection, seeing as how many of them date to before we were married, and they just sort of sit randomly around the house not looking particularly decorative for a month before we put them back in the box in the attic. I've got to do something about the Advent Calendar Situation, as well, since I've got several paper ones that I had when I was a kid, plus the Pooh one I bought in college, plus the one I cross-stitched, plus a new Playmobil one for this year. And the kid is only interested in them for the first four or five days, anyway.

I'm going to try to continue the handmade gift thing. We made it through the gift exchange with the in-laws already, which is half the battle. And I did manage to find some pretty kick-ass gifts for the kids we buy for who I know won't appreciate a quirky handmade anything. But I honestly don't know what I can make for Liza that she'd actually appreciate as much as she would a new set of Tinkertoys or a dress-up skirt that plays the Nutcracker music. I'm even coming up blank on etsy ... but maybe something will turn up.

So tell me, what do you do to celebrate the holidays? Are you a decorator? A mall rat? A crunchy granola parent? We want details!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

For K-A

Try it - it's strangely compelling. Also, if you put enough of it on your plate at Thanksgiving, nobody notices that you didn't try the turnip greens.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Downsides to the laptop

Very difficult to write a blog post while watching Elf and fending off the 4-year-old's full-body cuddles.

So instead, I'm letting Liza write it for me. I'm just taking dictation.

I just want to go to work with Daddy. And I also want to go and do gardening. And I also want to play outside at night. And I also want to go outside when it is too dark for anyone to see.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Must be

There's turkey on the table, football on the television, a foot-tall stack of advertisements in the newspaper, and a 4-year-old on the 4-wheeler ... must be Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Today I helped cook:
- the roasted vegetables for a salad
- a pumpkin/apple pie
- the stuffing
- pretzel salad

I'm a little bit pooped ... and the complicated cooking doesn't start until tomorrow. Gah ....

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Is there some sort of bonus point system in effect?

Because I just had to put all my clothes back on, reboot the computer, convince it to find a signal, and come here to post, just so I can participate in NaBloPoMo. Now THAT'S dedication!

Also, if I kill the kid before Christmas, do I get to keep any presents that were purchased for her before her untimely death? Because if she bites me on my arm hard enough to leave a mark - again - I swear, those toys are mine.

Monday, November 23, 2009

See this?

This is me posting from the Pennsylvania Turnpike, just because I can. Thank you, cellular internet connection!

Yes, I'm in the passenger seat. I'm not that reckless. Usually.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Two things that made me laugh

1. When we were in the car yesterday, Liza and her friend were pretending that they had buttons that would turn the car into a roller coaster or an airplane. As we were going up an on-ramp onto the highway, the friend yelled out, "We're on a roller coaster! Hold on to your underpants!"

2. Apparently, it was cold enough where Jason was in China to make this hat seem like a good idea:
Joking around with Liza this morning, I threw the hat to her, and I realized what this thing reminds me of: the panda heads that come flying at you when you're playing the soccer game on Wii Fit. I think I'll just start randomly throwing it at her when she's practicing (real) soccer in the yard, just to entertain myself.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Yet another experience I don't want to repeat

This morning I woke up in a pool of urine ... and then realized it wasn't mine. Thanks, kid.

Yep, it's wild and crazy around here when Jason's on a business trip. Lucky for him (and the laundry, and my sanity) that he's due home any minute.

I guess Naked Knit Night will have to wait until his next trip ...

Friday, November 20, 2009


"Goodnight, Liza. I love you a bushel and a peck."

"I love you a bushel and a peck, a barrel and a heap, a hug around the neck, a barrel to infinity and beyond beyond beyond beyond beyond ... and back!"

Daaaaaaaamn, I got served by a four-year-old.

At least I know there is no "beyond" when it comes to infinity, unless you're Buzz Lightyear, sucka.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I appear to have lost my sock mojo

Third time casting on for a pair of socks with really great yarn (thanks for the birthday gift, Susie! Wait til you see this stuff in person!), and the suckers are STILL too large. Fixable problem, but boy, is this starting to irk me. Irk, I tell you! Irk! Irk!

I can't tell if I'm just mojo-less this week, or if the Great Craft Goddess is trying to convince me I should be working on something different right now, but, gahhh, the irk!

I'll be over in the corner, taking deep breaths and looking at a pretty picture of the yarn, okay?

And maybe trying to find a pattern that doesn't rely on gauge (and doesn't end up looking like a [really beautiful] gay pride flag ... not that there's anything wrong with that ...)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Keeping the kid busy

With the holidays approaching, we're going to be in the car more and more often, sometimes for, oh, say, nine hours at a stretch. But now that the kid can read, I've got a really cheap way to keep her entertained:

Free holiday printables.

You can find them all over on the internet, free resources for teachers or homeschoolers to use to add a little variety to their lessons this time of year. Coloring pages, mazes, word searches, dot-to-dots, jokes, math puzzles, games, etc - it's a wonderland of stuff I can print to keep the kid busy in the backseat while we cruise the lovely and scenic Pennsylvania Turnpike.

A couple of the resources I'm using right now:

All of these have at least some content available without any registration or payment. All it costs is some printer ink and a few minutes to pick which pages you want, and you've bought yourself at least an hour of blessed silence from the backseat. At least until they find the page of jokes, which you may want to hide until you're less than an hour from your destination, because seriously, who wants to hear the same 20 jokes over and over again for the better part of a day? Every four-year-old in the country, that's who, so just save yourself the headache and keep that sucker under wraps until you're desperate

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Third time on the ice

Sorry for the crap video, but I was recording this with my phone while skating on rental skates, so I get bonus points for managing to capture anything at all.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Whew - less than two weeks late!

"Alternative Energy" (get it? windmills?) is on its way to its new home, where hopefully it will be hugged and loved and puked on by cats. Pattern will be available in my etsy shop soon, assuming I don't go completely insane this week.


If you painstakingly scrape all of the mildewed caulk out of your bathtub, clean the tile with alcohol, apply new caulk, smooth the new caulk, let the new caulk cure overnight, and then decide to hit the remaining stains in the grout above the new caulk with some Tilex ...

... the new caulk turns to pudding everywhere the Tilex touches, and has to be squeegeed out, rescraped, recleaned, and recaulked?



* That's a shout out to your favorite television scientist and mine, Bill Nye, whose shows frequently had a segment that began with a voice shouting DID YOU KNOW THAT? and ended with the voice shouting NOW YOU KNOW!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Say what?

I may have the only child on the planet who, when expecting and dreading a vaccination, freaks out at the idea of getting the inhaled version instead. The nurse at the county board of health H1N1 clinic that was in town today had no idea how to handle that one. How did I handle it?

"Look, I can't be the line leader today, I'm not in the high-risk group. Oooh, a lady with a bag of lollipops! I'll let you eat one even though it's 9am if you just shut up, sit still and sniff when the nurse tells you to."

She got grape.

Parenting skillz - I haz 'em.

Also ... every time she reads any flu literature, Liza calls it a "vacation" instead of a vaccination or a vaccine. Understandable mistake, but it's pretty funny when you're following the "vacation" route signs to get to the clinic.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Friday, November 13, 2009

Yet another thing I never thought I'd say

"Look, you can balance much better on skates if you bend your knees a little. I can even shake my buttocks at you! And I didn't even fall over!"

This, this is why we will only go to open skates that happen during weekday afternoons, because I don't want there to be dozens of witnesses to any similar exchanges that are required for motivational purposes.

On the positive side of things, at her request, Liza spent a whole hour on the ice today, and I had to drag her off when open skating was finished. She can now get back up off the ice without using her hands for balance, tiptoe around in a circle on the ice while balancing on her toepicks (don't ask), march-march-march-march-glide-on-two-skates, and march/glide all the way across the width of the rink without falling down (sometimes). And whenever she starts to lose her balance, I tell her "bend for balance," and darned if she doesn't bend her knees and (usually) avoid a wipeout.

If only I had settled on "buttocks!" as the cue to bend her knees, all this standing around waiting for her to get a move on would be much more interesting. As it is, I have to entertain myself by etching rude words into the ice with my skate tracks while I circle her as she stomps along. You'd be amazed what you can spell out in cursive if you've got decent balance and are really bored ...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Guess what I did today?

Opened a new etsy shop for my photographs, that's what. I'm still in the process of deciding how to present my work to stock the shop, which means it's empty right now, so there's not point to bothering to share the url right now.

Eventually I plan to offer images on notecards, plus prints that are mounted and ready to hang, among other things. It may take a while to get this set up - I'm aiming for a "soft open" in December, with it officially up and running and heavily promoted in January. I'm running a bit late for the holiday season for this year, which is a shame, but I really don't want to list things until I know they look good and are something I'm proud to sell.

In the meantime, if there are any of my images that you thing really should be in the shop, I'm happy to take requests. And if anybody is willing to be a guinea pig and wants to place an early order, give me a yell. You can contact me at lazymamadesigns (stick an a.t. sign here) yahoo (stick a d.o.t. here) com.

I'll let everyone know when the actual shop is up and running. Should be fun!


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Displaying her ridiculously awesome balance skills

Okay, so we know Liza was pretty good on roller skates, but how is she on ice?

Keep in mind that the kid's total experience with ice skates before today was to clomp around on them for five minutes last year before refusing to come onto the ice with me. I think this year she was ready, although I'm starting to question the wisdom of watching the ice dancing videos on YouTube right before we went to the first class ...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Seasonal flu vaccine down, H1N1 vaccine not yet located.

My favorite part - the look on the nurse's face when I told him that some people on the internet are calling H1N1 "hamthrax." I think I made his day. Not hard, considering his day consists of being locked in a supply closet with a bunch of vaccine and potentially contagious people, but I still feel like my good deed for the day is complete.

Monday, November 09, 2009


Q: What's worse than trying to find the perfect outfit to wear to a special event?

A: Finding the perfect outfit to wear to a special event that you don't end up going to, then having to return it, even though you look hot in it. No, there will not be pictures.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

gasp pant

"Mom, when we get back to our house, will you please take the training wheels off my bike so I can learn to ride a two-wheeler?"

Since I lack the necessary skills to simultaneously run beside the kid and take video, I wasn't able to record her first attempts on the bike. Instead, you get to see Jason's first attempt at helping her ride.

I believe tomorrow I'll be going to Target to get the handle for the back axle of the bike, because leaning over and supporting a 40-pound kid who's used to leaning at a 10-degree angle on her bike is no fun at all.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Welcome to fall!

Nothing says "change in seasons" at our house quite like the annual tally of bags of leaves, wouldn't you say?

Bookmark this post and come back often, as we're gonna be raking for another couple of weeks, so the totals are going to climb to the stratosphere ...

Week 1: 40 bags
Week 2: 15 bags so far, but trash day isn't until Thursday

Friday, November 06, 2009

Productive but unfulfilling

I hate spending two hours paying bills, filing papers, making phone calls, scheduling appointments, and doing other busywork. At the end of the time I have a clear desk and a lot of little scribbles on my calendar. That's it. Making things is so much more fun - at least then I have something I can brandish while talking about how soul-sucking the activity is.

At least while I was on hold I could watch the chickadee that's searching for bugs on the branches of the tree outside my window. Cute little bugger.

So basically, my afternoon consisted of soul-sucking boredom punctuated with an occasional, "Awwwww!" What have you been up to?

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Why have I never seen these before?

Did you know there's a whole subculture devoted to writing funny product reviews on Amazon? Seriously. Check it out:

Check out the comments for the shirt, then check out some of the other suggested items. I love the milk that can be used for self defense ... and the second comment down on the Zubaz pants.

Oh, dear. I think I may have found yet another place to waste time on the internet ...

Wednesday, November 04, 2009


You know, if you take your four-year-old to a kids' orchestra concert on the morning of Halloween, you may end up with a kid who decides to go trick-or-treating dressed as "orchestra girl."
Apparently Orchestra Girl wears a polarfleece shirt, an adult-sized purple sequined mardi gras dress, silver slippers, and grey yoga pants. Light-up wand from Sea World is optional, and just gets in the way when you try to carry 48 pounds of candy in a little plastic pumpkin.

At least her partners in crime (her best buddies from the neighborhood, who were super nice and asked her to go with them to trick-or-treat on our street) were properly outfitted in recognizable costumes, somewhat mitigating the "WTF are you supposed to be?" response Liza might have gotten otherwise.

Add to this the flower-girl-dress princess outfit she came up with for the party at Jason's friend's house the previous weekend, and the Sleeping Beauty Fairy Princess With A Wand Made From a Silky And A Tinkertoy from preschool, and the kid came up with four Halloween costumes.

And not a one made any sense to anyone but her. Sigh. And all I wanted was to make her a pirate costume ...

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

When did I get to be such a crabby old lady?

Kids these days, with their fancy-schmancy weddings that require fancy-schmancy quilts as gifts! The nerve, giving me only six months to procrastinate until I started the thing two weeks before the wedding! Picking out hard-to-find colors, like "blue" and "green," and "whatever you think looks nice."
Now I have to go rub some liniment on my ancient arthritic hands and get back to quilting The 15-Pound Wonder Quilt. Bah! Oooh, my aching back!

Monday, November 02, 2009

The Pirates Who Do Aarrrrr-ithmatic

Liza really, really wants to learn addition, but she doesn't quite understand that you basically have to memorize the answers so that you don't have to count on your fingers every time you're asked what 3+4 is. She doesn't want to do the flashcards if we just sit down with them, and she can't do the addition worksheets if she's wearing mittens, so I had to come up with another approach.

That's where the pirates come in. A few weeks ago Liza decided she wanted to play pirates, complete with a boat (sofa), Jolly Roger (silkies tied to a yardstick) and both swords (pvc pipe) and bandannas. I put together a treasure map, hauled Jason's chest-shaped toybox out of the basement closet, and we were in business. We searched for hidden treasure, fought off sea monsters, ate goldfish-shaped sea rations, and tried not to whack each other too frequently with the pipe.

So yesterday I made up a new treasure map. It's a key of which rooms various numbers are in. She gets a flashcard "clue" to start, and she has to figure out the answer, go to that room, and check under the number to see if she's right. If she is, she finds the next flashcard, which leads her to another room, and another, with the final clue sending her down to the toybox in the basement.

You would not believe how fast the kid is catching on to the +3s when there are pirates involved.

Also, she refuses to practice her handwriting ... unless I write out some of the words from a "science experiment" we did this morning, and then she's happy to copy them until they look right. Which is why we've got a sheet of paper that says in very decent preschool handwriting, "rub balloon salt pepper oatmeal electricity." We've also got a journal page with a drawing of me blowing up a balloon, and thanks to the wonders of really crappy preschool drawing perspective, my lips are coming out of my ears. That would be a pretty good trick if I could pull it off, though, wouldn't it?

Sunday, November 01, 2009

NaBloPoMo for the third year in a row

Good thing I got some serious knitting done last week while Jason was out of town ... otherwise I'd be trying to type blog posts with one hand while knitting Very Intricate Lace, and that's just all kinds of a bad idea.

Look! Pretty colors, and all I had to do was keep knitting 10-stitch rows while the yarn changed colors for me. Score!

Anybody want a shawl that looks like this?
This is just the edging, the main body of the shawl looks like the topmost part. It's very nicely finished, and I love the pattern, but the colors just are NOT doing it for me. Should have stopped when I first decided I was only meh about the combo, but I was too far along to quit at that point. Plus, it's alpaca, and therefore sheds like a mofo all over my clothes when I wear it. Nice and warm, but I look like the cats exploded all over me.

Off to do some - gasp! - quilting. Silly friends and their silly weddings requiring silly presents ...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I think I just peed myself

I don't find 'em, I just pass 'em on:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Reason # 56 to never stop by my house unannounced

The houses Liza builds for the cats have gone viral, taking over entire rooms in the length of time it takes me to, say, use the toilet. Yesterday I announced that I was going to ride the exercise bike, and before I could get into my workout clothes, she had built a shantytown in the family room that depended on the exercise bike for its main structural integrity.

And don't even get me started on Liza's room. She wrote a sign that says "No Mom or Dad" which she tapes to her door all day, which means we're not allowed to come in. She reinforces the idea by tying a piece of plastic lanyard from her doorknob to the dresser next to the door and then hanging Bob the Blanket from it, leaving the door open but effectively roping off the room as if it was in a museum or something. The only time we're permitted to enter is at bedtime, and even then we have to wait for her to take down the sign before we can come in to read her stories.

On the positive side, though, if I can't go in, I can't clean her room, which means it's not my responsibility anymore. Hurray!

Boo at the Zoo

Last weekend we attended Boo at the Zoo for the third year running. Liza has been declaring for weeks that she was going to be a fairy princess, using her sleeping beauty dress and some wings ... but she decided at the last minute that she wanted to design her own costume, and I was frankly too tired to argue it with her as long as it was warm enough. Which is why we ended up with this:

For the record (and from the top), that's a princess tiara with stickers all over the netting at the back and two butterfly hair clips clipped to the front, a butterfly t-shirt over top of a pink fleece sweatshirt, a butterfly hairband as a bracelet, two cheap dress-up skirts with hair bows clipped to the hem, a pair of tights, and white dress shoes that are a size too small. And apparently she was a garden pixie (or a garden sprite, or a garden fairy with no wings, depending on when you asked her).

This was the first time we've managed to get Liza to willingly go ask for the candy, and talk to the cello players, and even volunteer to be a helper during the magic show. It was also the first year that the animatronic dinosaurs have been on display at the same time as Boo at the Zoo, which is why we got to see things like this:

We all agreed that the one they dressed up as a hula girl (complete with lei, shell bikini top, and grass skirt) was the funniest, but this one was the best-lit, so that's what you get to see.

It will be interesting to see whether Liza repeats the costume on actual Halloween, or comes up with something new. I'm guessing we'll get some new mash-up of 400 pieces of stuff from her dressup trunk, but maybe she'll surprise me. You never can tell with Liza.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Ack! My eyes! My back! My ears!

If possible, skip the first 45 seconds of meaningless lyrics sung by girls with no diction skills. The rest is worth the wait.

Holy shit. And I thought Cirque was good, but those tiny Chinese girls have nothing on the Ross sisters.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Maybe my mind is just in the gutter too much, but ...

Doesn't this sound a little, um, suggestive?

"But before she could get the words out, Mr. Rogers put something in her mouth. It was so good Mrs. Rogers forgot about being angry."

In context**, it makes perfect sense, and I'm sure it wasn't meant to be inappropriate, but darn, I just about choked when Liza read that to me tonight.

**"Mrs. Rogers was angry. She was very angry. She opened her mouth. Mrs. Rogers meant to tell Amelia Bedelia she was fired. But before she could get the words out, Mr. Rogers put something in her mouth. It was so good Mrs. Rogers forgot about being angry. 'Lemon-meringue pie!' she exclaimed."

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Queen of Hearts and Alice in Wonderland Costume Set GIVEAWAY!!!!

Queen of Hearts and Alice in Wonderland Costume Set GIVEAWAY!!!!

Dude, you have got to click over to see the Queen of Hearts costume she is giving away. OMFG. I waaaaaaaant that, even though I know there is no way I could get Liza to wear it. I just want to hang it up and gawk at it for the next couple of years. And maybe pet it occasionally.

Friday, October 09, 2009


Hmm, a cucumber and a tomato, or something more, erm, erotic? Guess that depends on where you squirt the icing ...

No, I did not just write that about a cookie cutter based on a Christian kids' show. It was a figment of your imagination.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Liza says:

"I have a sug-gest ... sug-chest ... sug-glet ... I have an idea!"

Wild America (or at least Florida)

We started off today with Liza making a final visit with her "friends," the egrets who haunt a stream near Frontierland.

Then we did some nature photography in Tomorrowland, capturing a snail on film (SD card?) while we sat out a thunderstorm.

And since I think I've finally gotten through to Liza that she will not be allowed to take home an anole, we had to get a picture of one of those, too.

Oh, and we rode some things, too.

The end.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

So much for planning

Today's planned itinerary involved a return to Sea World in the morning, followed by an early afternoon nap, ending with an evening at Magic Kingdom to pick up the rides we missed last time (and hopefully see the fireworks).

Things started off well, with the projected upper-90s weather not as bad as it could have been, thanks to occasional breezes and some intermittent cloud cover. By lunch time we were still going strong, and Liza wanted to run through the special Halloween trick-or-treat stations.

The weather by then had hit sweltering, so after we visited all the treat stations and ogled all the cool costumed performers, we changed Liza into her swimsuit so she could visit the water play area. She hated it, as you can tell.

She was hilarious. It was like the big dumping buckets had some sort of magnetic pull, and although she didn't want to get her face wet, she couldn't resist standing underneath them, so she found a solution in covering up her eyes every time the bucket got ready to dump. Sort of like an ostrich with its head in the sand, only wetter.

By the time she was done in the water, it was pretty much time to get dinner, so we headed out. Liza was still going strong, but I was just wiped out, and we never did make it back out to hit another park in the evening. The fireworks just started as I was typing this. Oh, well. It's not like Liza even knows what she's missing ... there are definitely pluses to visiting the parks with a clueless kid who hasn't read the tour books.


Coolest thing I've seen recently was the jumping stilt performers at Sea World. We saw them a couple of times, and it totally makes me want to invent a time machine so I can go back and learn to be a really kick-ass gymnast so I could do this for a living. Except, you know, for the sweating and the lycra.

Speaking of which, Jason and I were really embarrassed to be laughing at the stagehands at the dolphin show, who were sometimes visible to the audience and therefore had to wear the same wetsuit-style costumes as the performers. I mean, if I were a 250-pound guy, I'd feel bad enough about myself without having 2,000 people laughing at me when I went to my position backstage ... four times a day. But Bubba had a gut on him, and that shiny wetsuit wasn't helping to hide it ... sort of looked like he was smuggling a frozen turkey. Luckily for you, I didn't take a picture.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

This is where the title will go, if I ever think of one.

Today we visited Epcot, which I wasn't sure would be that much fun for the kiddo, but we found plenty for her to do. One of the best parts of the day was seeing her playing on the same activities I remember from my visits to Epcot as a kid ... they've been redesigned to look more current, but the idea's the same.

The other best part of the day - when she passed out in the stroller and we let her sleep for an hour while I put my feet up and crocheted in a nice air conditioned exhibition hall.

It was in the low 90s today, and Epcot is virtually devoid of shade in some areas, so we all needed the break by this point in the day. Jason would have enjoyed that little interlude a bit more if his paperback hadn't been buried at the bottom of the backpack Liza was using as a pillow. Oh, well - at least he had time to try riding a Segway (and find the place to get free samples of sodas from all over the world).

Oh, and this will probably not make sense to anyone but me and Jason, but here goes nothing:
At dinner tonight Liza was making up really dumb jokes about what one corn chip said to the other corn chip. She kept asking if they were funny, and we said no, and she said that we should have a contest between me and Jason to come up with the funniest joke. I went first, with the ever-witty, "What did the jet chip (don't ask) say to the curly chip that wasn't behaving? Straighten up and fly right!" Jason followed, and in a brilliant maneuver he tailored his joke to his judge. "What did the jet chip say to the curly chip that was standing in the way? Move out of the way, I have to go to the bathroom!" Liza, who has been telling bathroom jokes for two days straight, thought this was the funniest thing she had ever heard, and Jason won the contest. Next time, i think I'm just going to say "poop" a bunch of times instead of telling a joke. It would get a better laugh from the judge, I think.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Oh Sea World, I love you so

For many, many years, Cedar Point's Raptor has been my favorite roller coaster. But Sea World's Manta just kicked the bird to the curb. It's got the smoothness and the loops and twists that I like, with the bonus gimmick that you go through the whole ride head-first, face-down. You hit the first loop and when you get to the bottom you realize that your stomach is at least three cars behind you. Awesome!

I managed to get on it right after the park opened today, and it was so awesome (and the line was so short) that I rode it twice before I called Jason to tell him it was his turn. Then he got in line, it was under repair for 20 minutes, and when he finally got to ride it made him feel so sick that he took a Dramamine once he got off. Score! Now I don't have to alternate turns with him when we go back this weekend!

I wasn't the only one enjoying the roller coasters at Sea World ... after going on every spinning ride in sight, Liza was jumping up and down with excitement to go on the Shamu Express in the kiddie area.

That's my girl, on her first "real" coaster (that is, the first one that was built more recently than 1956 and goes more than 20 feet high), and yes, we're in the front car. Why bother with a middle car when the kid is so short she can barely see out of the car in the first place?

Liza loved Sea World, as I knew she would. She loved the pet show, she was okay with Shamu, and she loved the acrobats. She had a great time at the aquarium next to Manta, too.

When I asked her what her favorite part of the day was, she told me she didn't have one. When I asked her what her least favorite part was, she said she didn't have one, because everything was so much fun.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Guess where we went today

No, really. Guess. I'll wait.

Bet this wasn't your answer:

Been there.

Done that.

Bought the $10 balloon.

Liza's favorite ride so far is the Winnie-the-Pooh storybook ride. But that pales in comparison to things like chasing down lizards in the condo parking lot and rescuing stinkbugs from the condo pool, so I'd say she's not exactly a Disney-a-holic yet.

And yes, it's 5:20, and we've already been home from the park for almost two hours. We pushed Liza slightly past when she was ready to go, but after that, it was just going to get ugly if we stuck around any later. We hit most of the "important" little kid rides at Magic Kingdom, and we still have four days of Disney park access, plus two days of Sea World access, so it's not going to kill us to leave early in the day. As it was, it was nice to leave without having to fight for a seat on the ferry back to the parking lot, and I'll be done on the computer and have taken a shower before Liza and Jason get back from the pool, so we'll all be refreshed and ready to watch a movie or go for a walk or something after dinner.

I am so, so glad we're here.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The whole nine feet

It started with some pretty yarn. And a cool pattern. And when I combined them, they colors of the yarn sort of obscured the lace pattern, but I was having so much fun knitting, I kept going anyway.

And going. And going. And going. When I hit the halfway point in the pattern, it was looking a little, um, long, but I forged ahead. And after complaining about not having time to finish it, I finally found time to finish it (thank you, Bill Nye).

All 9'2" of it.

Okay, it's kind of ridiculously long, but it is virtually weightless. Keep in mind that the whole kilometer of yarn that I used to make it weighed about 100 gm or so. It was so light, I went and bought some beads to add to the ends so that the whole thing wouldn't fly off in a light breeze.

And yesterday it was nippy enough to wear it over my t-shirt when we went for a walk in the evening, and I lurrrrrrve my new shawl! It's only slightly too long to wear with one end draped down my front, the middle part wrapped loosely around my shoulders, and the other end flipped over the same shoulder so it hangs down my back. So you get to see the awesome ends whether I'm coming or going - lucky you!

I've already got my next "ridiculously complicated" shawl planned out, yarn bought, beads purchased, needles set aside. But I'm not allowed to work on it until I finish another repeat of the 71-row chart for a blanket that I've been "working on" since, um, October. It's a bit of a bear to work on, and it's so heavy now that I gave up on it entirely for the summer. But I've decided I want to try to finish it by Christmas, and I can only handle one high-maintenance project at a time, so I'd better get it done before I start the shawl. At least it's pretty to look at while I'm slogging along ...