Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Hide & seek

So, I'm still trying to figure out how Memorial Day has already come and gone. This year needs to slow the hell down, man, is all I'm saying. We had a pretty fantastic holiday weekend. On Saturday my former officemate got married. The ceremony was lovely and the reception turned out to be way more fun than either of us expected. We loved the people we were seated with for dinner and there was an open bar. We were totally that table but when I made a joke about our table being the loud drunk table, the groom said, "You mean the fun table," so I think we're cool. This is going to sound impossibly cheesy, but the whole thing reminded me of all the things I love about being married. Oh! And the dress was serviceable if not the most fashionable thing ever worn, and the gorilla glue on my shoe held up perfectly. Unfortunately the part of the sole I hadn't glued down detached itself right as we walked into the dining room for dinner. Fortunately I had anticipated this very thing and had a pair of flipflops in the car. Sunday was my last day ever at my first real grownup job. I wasn't as sad about it as I expected, though maybe that'll come in time. Or maybe not.

On Monday we had our very first serious cookout in our backyard. There was potluck, including awesome desserts! There was cornhole! There were many friends in attendance! There were many cleaned and assembled yard toys, which Nico ignored in favor of trying to approach the grill and touching the trash can, the sharp-edged fence, and the plants that the dog pees on every day. And in place of my once-wee baby, there was this speedy toddler.

So far, summer, you're all right.

How about you guys...any fun weekend activities to report?

P.S. I have NO IDEA what the title of this post means. I fell asleep before I could think of one, then woke up an hour later, thought "Aha, perfect!" and published it. Apparently it made sense at the time.

Reading:  The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown

Playing:  Showroom of Compassion by Cake

Friday, May 27, 2011

Sunday, May 22, 2011

the photos I didn't take

We were invited to a cookout at our neighbors' house on Saturday night, and we took Nico with us. They have a lovely well-groomed fenced-in backyard, with nice soft grass and graveled paths. We turned Nico loose and let him roam, and he spent at least an hour toddling through the grass and pawing through (and attempting to eat) the gravel and driving his trucks up and down and stomping on the plants (not much, luckily). He got grass stains on his jeans and dirt under his nails (and on his face), but there are no photos. I thought about going across the street to get the camera, but I made the conscious decision not to fetch it. As much as I want to document all the fun things Nico's doing, the way he looks now, these moments we are sharing, I feel like sometimes it's important to watch him with my own eyes instead of through the screen of my digital camera. As much as I love to photograph him, it felt good to be fully present and not thinking about how to frame the perfect shot.

So there aren't photos, but I want to remember Nico with his cheeks stuffed full of banana slices, signing for more; careening around the grass with his dinosaur-print sun hat on his head; reacting with perplexed despair when the tiny pebble he dropped fell through a crack in the deck and disappeared.

We had a cookout at our house tonight and I did take a few pictures, just a few shots of my tiny boy in motion. It was his first time playing in the backyard and he was thrilled. I suspect we'll be spending a lot of time out there this summer. (And now MB and I are daydreaming about building a deck...maybe someday.)

Reading:  The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson

Playing:  The King is Dead by the Decemberists

Friday, May 20, 2011

Sunday, May 15, 2011


That's how I say it in my head, even though I know it's wrong. I have no idea why, and I can't stop doing it. It reminds me of something Nancy Pearl said when I saw her speak a few years ago. She was talking about how you get certain words wrong when you're learning to read phonetically rather than from having someone read to you, and how to this day she still feels like insisting the world "misled" is actually "mizzled."

Anyhoodle, here are some miscellaneous things from the past week:

1. Last Tuesday, I rescued this from the middle of the road:

Yes, that's a 10" snapping turtle, which I probably should've just left alone. There was a comedic scene involving the turtle threatening me, my feet popping up off the ground cartoon-style as I leaped away, and a sheriff pulling around the corner in his patrol car just in time to witness the whole thing, but it ended with me valiantly grabbing the turtle and carrying him to safety.

2. Nico has continued to hone his newfound walking skills. I have shot several too-long video clips, but I will spare you.

3. He also came down with the bitch of a cold that I had the week before, and it hit him really hard. On the worst day, my mom called me at work to tell me he was running a fever and she didn't think they had any baby tylenol at the house (they did, and it knocked the fever right down). He was wheezing so badly that night that for the first time in his life, I was almost afraid to put him to bed in another room. I spent several evenings this past week sitting with the baby monitor perched on my shoulder while I watched television so I could listen to him breathing. It was awful and I raise my glass to those mothers out there with chronically sick children. You all deserve medals, because this shot my nerves and he was only very sick for a few days.

4. I wanted to get a pair of khaki capris for my sometimes-outdoor job since it's getting hot already and we're supposed to wear khaki-colored pants. I say khaki-colored because they don't have to be the actual khaki / chino type of pants...just anything in that color. I generally dislike khaki-colored garments and only owned one pair from before I got this job, a super comfy lightweight pair that I bought in my second trimester with Nico, a pair of pants that literally slides right down off my ass now. Very professional, yes? I got one of those 50% off coupons courtesy of Oprah through a friend and decided to go to Old Navy. Their pants tend to fit me as long as I go for classic cuts and steer away from the godawful trendy skinny pants. I found a serviceable pair of capris and while they don't exactly blow my skirt up, being a plain pair of khaki-colored short pants, they are my pre-Nico size and therefore my second-most-favorite pair of pants in the world right now (after my newish pre-Nico-sized jeans from Target, natch).

5. Speaking of clothes, MB and I have a fancy-pants wedding and country-club reception to go to at the end of the month and I desperately want to avoid spending a bunch of money on an outfit. I don't wear dresses and therefore feel it would be ridiculous to buy a dress to wear to one wedding. I think the last time I wore a dress was to my high school reunion when I was vastly pregnant and none of my dressy pants fit. The last dress before that might have been my own wedding dress. Anyway, this wedding is a "formal attire required" wedding, which is not common here in the near-South, so I figured a dress was necessary.

I dug out a really cute maternity wrap dress that someone gave me but I never wore (it's the one I should've worn to the reunion instead of the one I picked...the photos from that night are horrible). I think with some stern shapewear it'll do the trick. I need shoes, though, and that's another thing I really don't want to buy. I can't wear my one pair of low heels now that my feet are a little bit bigger (thanks, pregnancy!) and I really shouldn't wear heels anyway, with my slightly jacked-up feet. I have a funky pair of black strappy platforms that I love and can still fit into, but one of the soles had come unglued from the shoe. Ah, hey...the shoes are here in this photo of the dress, which I took in Nico's room since there are two mirrors in there and none in my room. I wonder sometimes about the previous owners of this house.

I figured I'd try sticking the broken shoe back together with gorilla glue, since that stuff is supposed to work on anything. And that's why right now there's a cheap, strappy, slightly slutty shoe on my dining room table with a bag of flour on top of it.

6. I meant to start working on our pitiful garden yesterday, but instead spent two hours clearing out our shed. I found 3 million flower pots and a skeleton in there. (Okay, the flower pots part was a lie.) I've resurrected my long-neglected garden blog, so you can read about it over there if you wish. There are pictures, though only of the shed and not of the skeleton.

7. Have you heard that Rihanna / Eminem song with that guy from Lord of the Rings all buff and angry in the video? It's this one and I know I should hate it but I kind of love it. The shame!

8. Swistle has posted about freecycle a few times recently, and I always find the stories that come up in the comments sort of grimly fascinating. People are SO WEIRD, and somehow free stuff and the internet combine to bring out the weirdest of the weird. I regularly use the local freecycle board to both find and dispose of stuff, and I've also recently discovered the free section of Craigslist. Between that and the baby / kid sale page, I'm constantly refreshing looking for good deals. This week it paid off in a big way when some dude decided to give away a perfectly good Step 2 water table. True, I did have to drive across town in the rain and then I couldn't fit it into my car until I moved Nico's carseat and folded the seat down, but dude. Free water table! I don't mean to brag, but I think I won Craigslist.

9. Just over a month ago, I wrote about how my formerly full time job had started to really get me down, and how I wished my second part time job could somehow become full time. On Friday they made me an offer. I'm turning in my two weeks' notice at my workplace of five years tomorrow afternoon. I'm sort of excited but also sort of petrified. Change is good, right?

Reading:  The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson

Playing:  that awful Eminem song, I admit it

Friday, May 13, 2011

Monday, May 09, 2011

Sunrise, sunset

Just two days after those shaky drunken practice steps, suddenly we have a proper toddler. He's still a bit wobbly and comically stiff-legged, but he's on the move for real now. This, right here...this is why people have more babies. They just don't stay babies for long. Oh, but we're going to have so. much. fun.

Reading:  The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson

Playing:  a Led Zeppelin mix

Friday, May 06, 2011

Shaven and shorn

We gave Nico his first haircut today and I didn't even cry! I had been dragging my feet, but I finally admitted something needed to be done. He'd been looking pretty shaggy for several weeks, and the curls in the back get (got...past tense. Sob!) knotted when he sleeps on them, so it was past due. MB was completely confident that he could do it himself and ultimately he was right, even though I fretted out loud for nearly the whole procedure.

(Cute but shaggy)

Actually, for never having any official training in hair cuttery -- and considering his client was a bit of a drama queen -- I think MB did an excellent job.

The first cut is the deepest!

All done!

I suppose we won't really know until it's dry tomorrow morning whether or not this was a mistake, but it looks promising. Despite joking that I should bring him a mixing bowl in which to collect the clippings, MB didn't remove that much hair. He did laugh at me for tying up the cut curls with little bits of thread, but I maintain that he is the weirdo. Every woman I told about Nico's impending haircut this week immediately said, "You're saving a curl, right?" So clearly, MB is the one who's crazy, not me. Clearly.


And some other stuff

I'm supremely annoyed that after it rained damn near fourteen inches in April (that's what she said), we finally get two gorgeous May days in a row and I'm sick with either a weird allergy attack or a beshitted Spring cold. I've got that thing going where one nostril will suddenly become uncomfortably clogged, my sinuses are achy, and my throat hurts. So it's beautiful out and I feel like crap. FAIL, immune system. FAIL.


I turned some of my rage on the unholy mess that was my side of the office today at work. My supervisor was out, so I was able to pull all the boxes and piles of crap out from the shelves and the paper sorting tray stack thing and the top of the filing cabinet and under the desk. At one point I think I had half of the room blocked by piles and boxes and more piles. By lunch I had developed a deep and abiding hatred for bookends that don't actually hold up books. Once I was finished, though, it was so much better. I've been meaning to get around to this for a year or more. Maybe years. I haven't decided yet if it should count for my Year of Decluttering list, but I did recycle an entire gigantic bin full of useless papers I've been holding onto for ages for no good reason. Anyway, because I have them, here are before, during, and after photos. The shelves above the desk were awful and annoying and cluttered before, but for some reason I didn't think to include them in the first photo.


If you read a book that has a sequel, do you feel compelled to read the sequel no matter what? I'm almost finished with The Book of the Dun Cow, a book I'd vaguely meant to read for years and finally picked up at the library last month, and I'm not sure if I should read the second book or not. It only has one review on LibraryThing, which states:  "Depressing in a particularly icky insidious way. The only book I’ve ever read that makes me wish I could have the memory of it surgically removed from my brain and replaced with a note saying Do. Not. Read." So, yeah. And I don't particularly love the first book, either. I don't hate it, I just don't love it. Probably a solid mediocre three out of five stars. I usually give a sequel a try, but I'm thinking I might give myself a pass on this one.


This relates in no way to anything else, but it made me laugh. Two of my cousins (who are sisters but do not live together) are hoping to get chickens this Spring. I was talking to one of them on the phone earlier this week about maybe coming to get this gigantic old round corn crib from the park where I work. We're trying to get rid of it anyway and it would be a great coop for just a few hens. (It's like this, though that's not our corn crib in the photo.) Before we got off the phone she said she was going to be pissed if her sister got chickens before she did since she's been wanting them for years. "We're in a chicken arms race!" she declared, and I've been giggling over that ever since. Oh, and speaking of chickens, here is a totally rad article about a rooftop farm in NYC. A farm! In Brooklyn!


MB and I were invited out on a double date with the bibliophile and Mr. Bitter on Monday night. It was our first dinner out with adults and no kids in ages and ages. After we ate we went to see the 25th anniversary screening of Top Gun and holy crap, that is a cheeseball movie. I loved it in middle school and watched it incessantly. The soundtrack was the first CD I ever bought for myself. So cringeworthy! We had a really good time, though.


I was reminded the other day why I love Twitter after my initial skepticism. I hope the other Twitter-er doesn't mind me sharing it:

torturedpotato There are two sleeping children in my house. Thank you, Whoever, for this gift.

velocibadgerGRL @torturedpotato *makes burnt offering*

torturedpotato @velocibadgerGRL *very quiet burnt offering*

velocibadgerGRL @torturedpotato *smallest, least crackly flames ever to burn*

torturedpotato @velocibadgergrl *no smell! no smell!*

velocibadgerGRL @torturedpotato *cloaks flame to hide light*

torturedpotato @velocibadgergrl *goes up in flames* SHIT!

velocibadgerGRL @torturedpotato (on second thought, maybe we should just do a microwave offering)

I pretty much lost it at "no smell! no smell!"


I need to stop before this gets (even more) ridiculous, but here's one last thing:

Chicken arms race!

Photo Friday

View the entire Photo Friday collection on Flickr.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Good morning, world!

If Nico were a cartoon character, I think he'd constantly have little exclamation points of joy hovering above his head.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Life Hacks

I suppose I should write something political and brilliant tonight, but I don't process politics well anymore. I have generally avoided the news since I got pregnant with Nico. The world just gets too scary too often, there are too many horrible stories involving bad things happening to children, so I disconnected. I haven't regretted it yet, to be honest. I usually hear about anything worth knowing via email, Twitter, or facebook and can choose to read more or not. Usually I choose not.

Anyway, nothing serious tonight. Nothing funny, either. So how about something practical? A few months ago on my message board, we got on the surprisingly-interesting topic of using baskets to organize the sundry crap that tends to always be floating around the house. My friend Rachel said that since buying a bunch of baskets for her household's sundry crap, she felt like her life had improved at least 10 percent. Our friend Dawn said she felt like a 10 percent improvement was pretty significant, and I realized she was right. Then I started thinking about the little things we've done around our house over the last year or so to organize and how those little percentages here and there really do add up and increase my general contentment. And then I thought well, hey...if someone had told me about these years ago, I would've done this stuff before. Maybe somebody else might be interested? Now, months later, I am finally getting around to writing the post. I am certain I'm not the only person to think of these, but perhaps they'll be new to somebody.

1. Baskets
Yep, baskets. Love them. Any size, any material, I love them. It's a good thing that we don't have a Container Store here. Things that we keep in baskets:   remotes, cords, and chargers for electronics; boxes and bags of tea and hot chocolate; bags of chocolate chips and other baking supplies that tend to slide around on the pantry shelf; various Nico toys and board books; washcloths in our linen closet; the zillion bottles of lotion I have somehow amassed.

2. Key hooks
I can't believe we lived in this house for more than three years before it finally occurred to me to buy and install a little rack upon which to hang our keys. It really should've occurred to me earlier, especially since we've had a small bathroom peg rack in the breakfast nook / mudroom for ages that we use to hang up Indy's leash, car harness, and extra collar.

3. Plastic storage tubs
I could max out a credit card buying these. I love them...looooooove them! I've been sorting all of Nico's outgrown clothes by size, and I use them at work to keep all of my program supplies organized. Boxes would work, too, but there's something much more satisfying about a nice, neat stack of identical Sterilite tubs.

4. Bowl caps
We live in an old house and our kitchen cabinets are long overdue for replacement. We won't be paying to redo the kitchen anytime soon, however, so something had to be done about the fine dust that constantly sifts down into the mixing bowls when the silverware drawer opens and closes. My parents have the same problem in their house, so I feel pretty certain that at least one or two other people do as well. One day I had an epiphany. I went to the store and bought a plastic shower cap with elastic edging. Once the bowls are nested, fit a shower cap over the top...no more dust!

5. Vinyl zip-up bags
You know those zip-up vinyl bags that you get when you buy bedding? Save them! My mom has used hers for years to store knitting yarn. I don't knit, but I always saved my bedding bags anyway. And lo, they have shown their worth. Nico's crib has a built-in drawer underneath which is the perfect size for storing his extra sheets and mattress pads (and when he was younger, his swaddlers and sleep sacks). The problem is, no matter how often I clean his room, dust and dog hair end up kicking up into the drawer. Hence, the vinyl zip-up bags. I also have used some to store the oodles of tiny baby toys we ended up with, all the rattles and crinkle toys and chewable items that Nico has outgrown. I suppose you could use them for just about anything.

6. The crib sheet trick
Another message board friend gets all the credit for this one. When making the baby's bed, cover the mattress with a waterproof fitted pad and a fitted crib sheet, per usual. Then lay the largest flat waterproof baby pad you can find (we have the store-brand version of these) on top and cover that with a second fitted crib sheet. When the baby spits up or pees out of a diaper in the middle of the night, you can rip off the top sheet and pad and put him or her back to bed on the backup sheet. It's a pretty tight squeeze to get the second fitted sheet on, but this trick is worth it. I haven't tried it on a twin bed, but I suppose it might be possible.

There are probably more, but I can't think of them. Do you have any tricks for keeping your stuff from driving you crazy (or just generally simplifying your life)?

Reading:  The Book of the Dun Cow by Walter Wangerin

Playing:  Sigh No More by Mumford & Sons