Saturday, March 27, 2010

Sartorially Speaking

Well, this has been a doozy of a week (our house on the market! pink eye!) so I shall distract myself from its more disagreeable details with some tales of fashion and clothes and whatnot.

I recently took Grace for her FIRST EVER shoe fitting. I hadn't ever taken her in before because I have bought shoes in the next size up when I see them on sale, online mostly. (What? People shop in STORES still?!) In the past I have just moved her up to the next size of shoes (which I have stashed in the top of her closet) whenever her shoes start to seem tight. She had been wearing size 8 shoes for about a year and they were starting to seem a touch small, so for her birthday last month I wrapped up the three pairs of size 9 shoes I had and had her open them as birthday presents. We packed away the old shoes that were still in good enough shape for Violet to wear later and went along our merry shoe-wearing ways, but I felt puzzled by the fact that the new size 9 shoes seemed, somehow, difficult to get on and, upon further reflection, too small. Not any bigger than the size 8 shoes, actually. I guess the smaller sized ones had been gradually stretched out by her foot growing? I didn't have any bigger shoes, though, so I was reduced to going to an actual shoe store and paying *gasp* full price. When they measured her, they said she needed a 10.5, which makes me quite shocked that she had been wearing the size 8 ones without complaint but a few weeks before. Grace fell in love with the whole shoe-buying process. She loved the little foot-measuring thingie and walking around choosing which shoes she would try on and having the lady bring out the shoes for her. We came down to two that fit well and were what we were looking for (casual sneaker-ish type of shoe) and then I was confronted with the pitfall of shopping with your child-- Grace didn't want the ones I wanted her to get. I wanted her to get the adorable brown suede sneakers with flowers, but she wanted the shiny pink and white ones. I swallowed my innate desire to GET MY WAY and bought the shiny sneakers for her, although not until after trying to convince her the brown ones were better. (They were! Way cuter!) Sheesh, it's like she's her own person and I can't control her or something...

Violet has started the great toddler slim-down, where the discovery of walking and related physical activities results in the shockingly quick transformation of a chubby baby body to a slimmer toddler physique. She has been wearing the same size of clothes since last autumn sometime, which is at least twice as long as any other size has lasted, and the items she is outgrowing are too small in the length or the neck, not the width. (Side note: Before having children, I never would have expected that a person could outgrow an item of clothing because his/her HEAD was too big to get through the neckline.) It is remarkable how much babies change, and then how much their change changes. One reason that motherhood has been so good for me is that it has pushed me to accept change and to welcome the mercurial unsteadiness that is life.

I am currently sewing Easter dresses for Grace and Violet. This is the first time I have ever done matchy-matchy dresses for them, and I am feeling pleased with how they are turning out. My mom, who is also a sewing type, always did beautiful Easter dresses for my sister and me that matched or coordinated and I feel a bit nostalgic about doing it now for my little ones. I am using this fabric for both dresses (I feel obliged to point out that I did not pay that much for it, as I procured it through a Japanese fabric co-op I'm part of) and it is this gorgeous watercolor-esque sponge-y cotton double gauze. Grace's dress (which is finished) is this one, mostly like the purple version on the cover, and Violet's (which is about 2/3 done) is design #4 from the Spring 2010 issue of Ottobre. Cute cute cute! Dressing little girls is so fun.

Dressing myself is not quite as fun, but the advent of warmer weather does open up new possibilities. I love weather where I can wear skirts with bare legs and sandals; I think that is my favorite way to dress. I am also starting to feel enthused about dresses, now that Violet is nursing less. She's cut down on nursing a lot (although I expect she won't be done for good for another number of months) so I don't have to dress every day for easy nursing access with the layered cami to pull DOWN and knit top to pull UP and so forth. I am not ready to wear a dress with a back zipper or anything (she does still want to nurse a few times during the day, after all) but it's pretty much never when we're out and about so I am excited about button-front shirtdresses and woven tops of the more fitted variety and such. Yay! Now I've just got to get some of them sewn up and/or purchased. I would love to get a pretty new dress done for Easter but I don't know if that is going to happen next week.

I also recently went down two cup sizes thanks to Violet's gradual weaning. My temporary visit to the land of the well-endowed is drawing to a close, I think, which has its ups and downs. On the one hand, all my shirts fit better, especially the V-neck and scoop-neck ones, and I think I look thinner in the new bras. On the other hand, I do miss my fabulous breastfeeding curves.

Monday, March 22, 2010

15 Months

Fun with trains

Violet is 15 months old today, and each passing day finds her more a toddler and less a baby. She has been walking for real for a while now, and it definitely is her preferred mode of transportation these days. She still has that stiff-legged, staggering gait of a newbie biped, and stomps around the house intent on her explorations. She is growing so independent and interested in EVERYTHING, which is good but at the same time results in a lot of emptied drawers and toys spread everywhere. Also, we are going through another phase of constant bruises and bumps as she masters walking, just like we did when she was getting used to crawling. There is just not enough babyproofing in the world to avoid it, I think.

Still a little unsteady at times

We turned her car seat around (from rear-facing to forward-facing) halfway through our drive from Dallas to New Orleans and I am happy to report that this has resulted in a bit more tolerance of the car. She is still not the biggest fan, as the car seat restrains her from the great big world out there to see and investigate and toddle about in, but she is much more content now that she has a view other than the backseat a foot in front of her face. And really, who wouldn't?


She is still nursing but in recent months has cut back on the frequency and length of her breastfeeding sessions. She nursed pretty much every two hours for a YEAR (during the day, at least) but now she is going longer than that and is often more interested in the busyness of her life than sitting still. At bedtime she usually doesn't fall asleep nursing anymore, but finishes and then I tuck her into the crib and sit by the crib reading a book until she nods off. She isn't in her crib the whole night yet but wakes up sometime in the night and comes to snuggle with me. She is such an easy, pleasant cosleeper that we haven't gathered the motivation to change our habits yet. And I know that these days of cosleeping and cuddling and filling my arms with this baby girl are short, so I am in no rush to end them.

Sweet Violet

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Backyard Picnic


Yesterday was a gorgeous, gorgeous day (before this cold front arrived that has plunged us back into rain and chill) so I packed us up and carted our lunch outside to the backyard for an impromptu picnic. We spread out a beach towel and set bowls of apple slices and cantaloupe and some coconut muffins we made earlier out for us to graze on in the warm sun. Grace and Violet ran around the yard with food in hand, munching and playing and soaking up the spring warmth.

Grace and the spring sky

Violet is eating pretty much regular food at this point, although I usually avoid giving her anything too terribly messy. She has discovered the joy of feeding OTHER people, however, and thinks it is hilarious fun to offer me chubby fistfuls of her food. I chose not to put online any of the several photos I have from yesterday that shows Violet shoving her cheese stick into my face/the camera. I guess she has spent all of her life being fed by other people and now finds great delight in turning the tables.

Backyard fun

Yesterday was also the day our house officially went on the market, and I discovered one other benefit to eating outside, aside from the novelty and fun-- no mess! Usually a meal involves smears of yogurt or a storm of crumbs falling to the chairs, the table, the floor, the high chair, and so forth, but yesterday I just shook out the beach towel and I was done. I did not have to vacuum and mop AGAIN in preparation for keeping our house pristine for prospective buyers. So, new rule! We all eat every meal outside until our house sells!

Monday, March 15, 2010


We have sprung forward and Grace is on spring break from her little preschool and we have had our first 70-degree days; spring is undeniably springing before my very eyes-- springy spring spring spring. The weather has been just beautiful for the past few days, with sunny afternoons warm enough for short sleeves and everyone coming out to enjoy the scant few weeks of enjoyable outdoors that we get here in north Texas.

Sadly, the spring weather has not caused us to magically become healthy but rather we are still swimming in a hazy sea of germs and illness. Perhaps more accurately, we are swimming in a hazy sea of convalescence, as it seems like everyone who was most recently sick is slowly getting better. Specifically Violet has had a cold (fever, messy nose, coughing) and although you would not be tempted to call her "healthy" if you saw the effluvia coming from her nose right now, she does seem better than she was a few days ago. She had a few nights of being up feverish and coughing and unable to get comfortable, and thus it was rough going for a few days. She is on her second or third night of more normal sleep, and therefore so am I, a fact for which I have a bone-deep gratitude to match the bone-deep exhaustion I was sporting a few days ago.

Speaking of Violet, she is becoming such a little toddler and leaving more and more of her baby self behind. She staggers around the house on her own independent pursuits and missions. Too often, they involve putting her toothbrush in the toilet or removing all of the DVDs from our media drawer, but it is highly entertaining to see her sober inventiveness and determined exploration. She went outside to play in the backyard for the first time ever this past weekend when our weather was so nice, and it was a huuuuuuuuge hit, a grand success to the point of woeful wailing when we needed to come back inside. She has added "ALL DONE!" and "UP!" to her vocabulary, the latter of which she takes to mean both pick me up and put me down. It is a general purpose word for changing position, I guess. She is often very serious these days and will tuck her little chin down and scowl at us from beneath furrowed brows when she is not feeling quite enthused about the situation. I feel like she is learning a lot about autonomy and independence these days; she is still all for cuddles and nursing and downtime in the Ergo but I see her ever more aware of her own desires (and the thwarting thereof) and ever less the baby who contentedly does whatever I want her to.

Most of last week was taken up with work we were having done to get our house ready to go on the market. We had all our front landscaping ripped out and new bushes put in, our backyard cleaned up (leaves from last fall still lingered in neglected, half-composted piles amidst a sea of branches and brushy stuff), and a lot of our rooms repainted. Some of our walls needed a bit of repair (thank you, shifty clay soil) and some of the paint was just dirty so I'd say 1/3 of our walls got repainted. Most of the rooms stayed the same color (kitchen still white, Grace's bedroom still purple, etc) but we did decide to change our pretty blue living room over to beige, along with the connected dining room. I am generally no fan of beige, but I figured if we were already painting three walls of that room and the house was going to be listed within a few weeks, we might as well play it safe and go neutral. So the inside of our house is just about ready to go and the outside of our house is looking quite spiffy, with the major exception of the HUGE PILES of ripped out bushes and branches and yard refuse sitting on our curb. The city does bulk pick-up one week out of the month for our neighborhood and supposedly it should get picked up by Wednesday. I think that's pretty much the last thing we're waiting on to take pictures and then list our house.

(Sidenote: Yesterday Rob tried to fix our original-to-1953 back screen door, which was sticking badly upon opening or closing. His attempts actually made it worse and the door was in terrible shape anyway, so we decided just to remove the whole thing and leave only our main back door. He carried the door out front to our giant pile for bulk trash pick-up and NOT THREE MINUTES LATER, a couple pulling a huge open trailer filled with the most motley assortment of junk/clutter/rubbish came up and drove away with our craptastic screen door perched atop their haul. It was like they were watching our pile waiting for us to put something good in it and then immediately jumped in and got it. I only wish they would have taken more.)

Despite the beautiful weather, I have a bit of apprehension about this spring as I sit here with the next few months stretching before me. Our house will be on the market, which means a lot of stress and cleaning and packing the kids out of the house at a moment's notice and the like. Rob has yet more conferences to travel to this spring, which means solo parenting, and there are trips for ALL of us scheduled to see both sets of our parents, which means the exertion of traveling with small children combined with the task of having our house ready to show while we are out of town. And we still have a lot of uncertainty about where we will live and what our lives will look like starting this summer, which means that both Rob and I are starting to get twitchy about it and are longing for a bit of certainty, a bit of a plan. I shall take a deep breath and do one thing at a time and focus on how overwhelmingly blessed I am and remember that I do have certainty about things that are more important than real estate or job interviews.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Our Dog Is Famous!

So sometime last year I got an email from a random person saying she was from a publisher who was putting together a book of funny dog pictures and she wanted to use a picture of Abbey that I had up on Flickr. I looked up the publisher and it seemed to be real and they weren't asking for money, so I signed the release and said, "Sure! Why not?" I didn't get paid or anything, but they said they would send all of us contributors a copy of the book. Well, when we got back from our New Orleans trip, the book was waiting for us in the giant pile of mail that had stacked up! I had pretty much forgotten about it, but I must admit I'm kind of excited now. Does this make me a published photographer? I don't think it is at all related to the official Lolcats or Loldogs people (hmmmmm, "official" doesn't seem like quite the right word to refer to anything related to ceiling cat, but you know what I mean) but I have been browsing through the book and it is quite funny, if you're in to that sort of thing (which I TOTALLY AM). So it was this picture that they used and they captioned it, "Sumone took mai staplr agin." HAHAHAHAHAHA. If you happen across a copy or are in the market for a book of humorously captioned dog pictures, Abbey is on page 77.

In less awesome news, Rob is out of town again. He is gone to a conference in Florida for everyone who has the grant that he got to pay for his fellowship. He had a bit of apprehension about going because this is the grant program he is leaving and he foresaw some awkward conversations with the higher-ups about why exactly he was turning down their money and leaving the academic career track. I've talked to him a few times, though, and it seems like everyone has been really positive and understanding and supportive, so hooray for that! He was home for only one day between the conference in New Orleans and this trip, and weirdly enough, this happened last year too, although the two conferences were switched in order. He went by himself to both conferences last year, leaving me on my own with the two small creatures for much longer than this time around, but still I eagerly await his return, despite the not-too-long trip. Not least because...

Grace is sick. AGAIN. And so am I. AGAIN. We have just been a mass of disease over here at our house, since Christmas, I think. None of it has been serious, thank goodness, but it has been cold after cold after stomach virus after cold, passed around between the four of us. I need to take some drastic immune-system-boosting measures or something. This particular upper respiratory virus hit me as we were leaving for New Orleans and then Violet while we were there, and now Grace has gotten it and is coughing and full of snot and running 103 degree fevers when I let the ibuprofen/acetaminophen regime wear off. The poor thing gets all flush-faced and wan and feeble; I am ashamed to admit that I kind of thought she was exaggerating until I took her temperature and saw how high it was. And then last night I started throwing up. I am hoping against hope that it was something I ate and not another virus and/or that Grace and Violet will not get it. Yesterday Grace kept saying, "I don't like this", and boy, do I share the sentiment. Also, she has somehow decided that because she is sick, she can only eat "healthy" foods, which apparently means only fruit. No vegetables, dairy, grains, protein sources-- no, no, they are not "healthy". Oh well, it won't hurt her for a few days. And hours and hours of television for a few days also won't hurt her either, right? Time to go start another episode of Ni Hao, Kai-lan...

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Crescent City

Really, really pretty

We got back from our trip to New Orleans the day before yesterday and oh, what a lovely trip we had! I really liked New Orleans. I certainly went expecting to like it, but the city surprised me with its graceful loveliness and charm. We stayed in a hotel just outside the French Quarter (more in downtown) and we walked and walked and walked to everything through our whole trip, exploring and eating and having fun. There is a lot of contrast in the part of the city where we spent our time, streets full of quiet old brick buildings dripping with elaborate wrought iron existing next to streets dominated by frat-boy neon-lit establishments which would sell you a beer-bottle-shaped plastic container that looked to hold about a liter of something noxious. All in all, it was a more appealing city than I was expecting, however, full of beauty and grace.

Beignets at Cafe Du Monde

I am glad that we did so much walking because, oh, how we ate. We had beignets and muffulettas and etouffee and jambalaya and po'boys and gosh, I can't remember what else. Both Grace and Violet were huge fans of the beignets and we went back again our last day, despite the HUGE mess they made. Cafe Du Monde puts, seriously, 1/2 cup of powdered sugar on each order and it turns out that 4-year-olds cannot quite deal with that without covering their entire fronts with white powder. Oh well, what can you do?

At the aquarium

We went to the Louisiana Children's Museum one day (we got in FOR FREE because they are a partner museum with the children's museum here in Dallas where we are members) and had a lot of fun there. It was in an old warehouse district with a bunch of the warehouses turned into different museums and art galleries and lofts. We also went to the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, which was quite wonderful with sting rays you could touch and glowing fantastical jellyfish and fish galore swimming around in giant glass tanks. And we rode the ferry that goes from Canal Street to St. Algiers and Gretna (also FREE-- hooray!); boats are always fun.

Ferried around

In a conversation with my mom after our return, I learned that one set of my grandparents spent their honeymoon in New Orleans, which made me immediately wish that I could somehow experience New Orleans circa 1950 or so. Sure, we had a lovely time and it was beautiful, but wouldn't it have been even MORE fun with men who wear hats and fetching shoes and really full skirts?