Thursday, December 18, 2008

Funnies from the Papoose

The Papoose:
  • now holds cell phones, remote controls, anything with buttons, somewhere behind her head of pressed against her lips, and says, "Hello?" (roughly translated from "Aaa-ooo?")
  • waves bye-bye whenever I put her coat on, whenever we enter a parking lot, whenever we put Chewy in his crate, whenever she goes to bed, and whenever I hang up the phone.
  • says "uh-oh" whenever she drops something, whenever she throws something, when her shoe falls off.
  • says "Da-do" for dog, or Chewy (we're not sure), "da-da" for her father, "mama," "mum-mum" for food.
  • wants to wear my headbands and carry my purse.
  • thinks Bob's name is "gentle."
  • pretends to drink from a coffee cup (maybe we should take a hint from that).
  • tries to brush Chewy with his dog brush.
  • loves brushing her teeth (read: chewing on her toothbrush)
  • says "thank you" ("uh-oo" with a really obvious intonation) whenever she hands you things, and pretty often when you do things for her.
  • brings us books to read her all the time now (especially, Brown Bear, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Yummy Yucky, Baby Says Peekaboo, Raindrop Plop, and Snowman)
  • has said "banana," "zebra," and "giraffe" a few times, but doesn't have them down yet.
  • laughs when she hears people laugh on tv.
  • seems to especially enjoy music by Guns N Roses, Wham!, Buddy Holly, the Beatles (the older stuff), and the Barenaked Ladies. Eclectic taste.
I'll be MIA for at least a week as we celebrate the holidays with fam. I'm sure we'll have lots of cutie pics when we get back. Have a very merry holiday season, peeps!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Feel-Good Stuff

Do you guys know about Network for Good? I didn't until just now, but apparently they've featured it on the Today Show.

One of my dear friends has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. In my pathetic attempt to try to do something useful about it, I went looking for researchers I could throw money at. A pitifully small amount of money, granted, but still. I don't know what else to do. She's too far away to wrap her up in a ball and hug her for hours until she's so thoroughly suffocated with love and support that she couldn't escape if she tried.

Anyway, so Network for Good is a database of not-for-profits that you can search by name or keyword, compare, and donate via credit card or Paypal. They also sell gift cards in case you want to let a giftee give your money to the charity of their choice. You can hit multiple charities at once through one shopping cart, and one transaction. You can send e-cards through the site, alerting giftees of donations you've made in their names. You can see how individual charities break down their spending, or just study the ratings Network for Good has given them. You can choose whether to make your donation anonymously, or to let the charity see your contact info. There's more; it's a pretty great site. You should check it out.

**********************************

On a completely unrelated note, except in that way where I've eaten four brownies since getting my friend's email with the definitive diagnosis, I wanted to share the Best Holiday Brownies Ever! recipe with you. These are delicious, and even the Husband likes them. He of the "I don't mix chocolate and cinnamon" and the "If you're baking something, it better be chocolate chip cookies" variety. I highly recommend them. A classic brownie texture, with holiday spices to make it special.

Cappuccino Brownies from Everyday Food:

Cappuccino Brownies

Be careful not to overcook these brownies; they should be moist, not dry. This recipe is from Lisa Kim of Brooklyn, New York.

Prep: 15 minutes
Total: 1 hour

Ingredients

Makes 16

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pan
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees, with rack in center. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan, and line the bottom with parchment or wax paper. Coat paper with butter. Set aside.
  2. In a large heatproof bowl, combine the butter and unsweetened chocolate, and place over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until completely melted. Let cool slightly. Whisk in sugar, espresso powder, vanilla, and eggs.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Add to the chocolate mixture, and stir until just combined (do not overmix). Fold in chocolate chips.
  4. Pour into pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out slightly wet, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; cool completely. Remove from pan. Using a damp, warm knife, cut into 16 squares, wiping knife blade after each cut. Peel off parchment paper and serve.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Christmas Downtown

I love small towns. The best parades are always in small towns. Hamilton, NY has its dairy princess. Mill Valley, CA has it's dog section. Dickson, TN has Mr. and Mrs. Old Timer.

Dickson also has a great Christmas celebration where they block off Main Street from traffic and everyone runs wild with cups of hot cider, cocoa, or something with a little more bite; rocks out to the band or toasts the bagpiper; waits in line for Santa's lap; or warms up in the coffee shop or bookstore or antique store or bakery or cigar shop.

We hit the scene with the Ouisers tonight and it was so. much. fun.




Thursday, December 04, 2008

Santa Ain't Welcome 'Round Here

What is it about little kids and Santa? Aren't they supposed to love the color red? Why do the treat the jolly old guy like he's some horrifying fat leper with a beard? Maybe it's the beard itself. Or maybe it's the bizarreness of the whole situation. I mean how many times does a parent make a kid get all dressed up, get in the car, and then hand the kid over to some strange man after standing in line for an hour? Maybe they think they're about to be sold into child slavery.

Whatever it is, like S, the Papoosekin's got it, too. A couple of weeks ago, the Husband took her to see Santa while I was buried in copy editing. I got her dressed up, but didn't really mind that I was missing it. I figured it would be pretty uneventful since she would have no idea what was going on.

Boy, was I wrong. Still glad I missed it though.

I asked the Husband to write this story out before he forgot the details, but he just can't find the time, so I figured I'd better do it. So this is a second-hand account; I retain the right to confabulate and pepper inaccuracies throughout.

Santa was appearing right down the street from Ouiser, which is also right down the street from our bookstore, so it was the perfect locale. He took her there after story hour at the bookstore with S and Mr. Ouiser, where the Papoose was apparently knocking over displays like so many dominoes while the Husband tried in vain to repair the damage done and prevent further chaos, chasing her around the store at a breakneck pace. She almost did break her neck when she finally plowed into one display headfirst, like a human bowling ball.

At Santa's place, they stood in line for about 30 minutes, which was challenging, but the Husband managed just fine. When they finally got in to see Santa, the Papoose found herself in his lap and immediately lost it. The Husband shushed and hugged and held and comforted and they tried a couple more times, but to no effect. So the photographer suggested they put the Papoose in the chair alone, where Santa could approach the chair from behind and she wouldn't even know he was there. This seemed plausible, but the wool is not easily pulled over Papoose eyes. She was onto them like white on snow (heh) before the photog had her shot. At this point, apparently she was screaming bloody murder, her face was all red, and there were tears, real tears, people! Finally, in a last ditch attempt, the Husband sacrificed all ego and got in Santa's chair, holding the Papoose, while Santa tried again to sneak up from behind. She would have none of that. By this time she'd decided it was altogether a bad scene, but the photog did get one tearful shot, which I'm supposed to pick up this week. I'm a little afraid to see it.

The Husband had to call me from the parking lot to try to talk the Papoose down from hysterics over the cell phone. Apparently, she screamed all the way home, though by the time she was deposited in my lap, there was a nary a sniffle. I held her while she drank milk and ate comfort food in the way of a Mum-Mum or two, and all trauma was forgotten.

(Note to future therapist: I had nothing to do with this. It was all the Husband. Send him your bills.)

Finding comfort in the bottom of a bottle.

Santa's Email, Hacked


Got this from the Husband and it was too funny not to share.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Sleepless Nights

Happy Thanksgiving, Peeps! We had a fabulous feast with Ouiser's family, followed by naps, and brought to a perfect close by a game night at Ouiser's house. We played a game that was new to all of us...I can't remember the name. Perhaps Ouiser will mention it soon, otherwise I'll ask her for it, because I highly recommend it to you gaming types out there. I seriously laughed harder during this game than I have in years. It was one of those laugh-fests where you're laughing so hard you're not making a sound. At least half of us were in tears. It was great.

We had a little Papoosekin experiment, too, whereby we put her to sleep in a spare room (okay, it was a bathroom, but a really nice one! And warm, and quiet, with some white noise to sleep by. Really, if you ever have to sleep in a bathroom, I highly recommend Ouiser's. It's very clean.), planning to try putting her in the car when it was time to go, and back in her crib when we got home. We knew this had the potential to end in disaster with a wide awake toddler just as we wanted to go to bed, but you have to try these things at some point.

Honestly, I think it would have been fine. We turned off all the lights in Ouiser's house between the bathrood/nursery and the front door. We had he car running and warmed up. Ouiser held the flashlight as I smuggled the Papoose down the stairs, out the front door, and into the car, where the Husband was sitting in the backseat, ready to buckle her up in record time. I drove us home without a word. The Husband and I were a dream team of perfect parental synchronicity as I unlocked the door at the exact moment that he approached, followed him down the hall turning on exactly the right light to illuminate her room just enough for him to see where he was going without waking her up further. He tucked her in, I turned on the white noise, and we exited, proud of ourselves for our parenting prowess.

Not a peep. She went right back to sleep. Life was good.

Until I was getting ready for bed, half an hour later, and heard her up. This never happens. I figured she was just settling herself after being moved, and told the Husband to turn down the volume on the tv.

I was tucking myself into bed, turned on the baby monitor, still hearing minor fussing from the Papoose, but secure that she sounded like she was trying to get back to sleep. Then I hear,

MRRREEEEEOOOOOWWWWW?!?!?

MMMMRRRRRRRREEEEEEEEOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWW?!?!?!?!?!?

"Puck?" That cat's meow is unmistakable. But I couldn't hear exactly where it was coming from. It almost sounded like it was coming from the baby monitor...but no, he never goes in her room. But I didn't see him in the bedroom either...

MMMRREEEOOWW?

OMG, that was definitely coming in over the monitor. That F*$#ing CAT was in her room! I ran downstairs, yelled at the Husband to hold the dog so I could wring the cat's neck unobstructed, opened the Papoose's door about two inches for about two seconds while the Menace darted out.

Those of you who aren't parents may not understand why that's such a big deal. You. Don't. Mess. With. A baby's. Sleep. Period. But especially when you have a baby who's been known to get up at 4:30 am.

To make a long story slightly shorter, this catastrophe (CATastrophe. Get it? Heh.) was followed by a tragedy of errors (not comedy, tragedy, I assure you) including the Husband going to bed without letting the dog in, resulting in much barking and scratching at the door; the baby waking up every 45 minutes and not getting back to sleep, necessitating the Husband going into her room and getting her back to sleep while he held her for an hour; pulling her into our bed around 5:00 am where she eventually fell asleep, crowding the Husband into a sliver of his side of the bed and kicking him every so often, just to make sure he couldn't go back to sleep...

She made us pay for yesterday's fun.

So now I'm sitting on the couch, giving thanks for coffee and peppermint mocha creamer, and doing some Black Friday window-shopping from my couch. Here are my favorites:

  • RETEEZ: a company that takes old t-shirts and turns them into tote bags, lunch totes, baby bibs, dishcloths, and a whole host of other things, using recycled fabrics. (via The Tranquil Parent)


  • Coffee Cozies: I have been seeing these everywhere lately. Just hand your coffee cozy to your favorite barista when ordering your next Grande, 2 pump Vanilla, Non-Fat, Extra Hot, Latte, and save the landfills one extra coffee sleeve. Your barista will thank you. Styles and colors abound on the Internet, and even in my local caffeining hole, but this one, by newgreenmama, is one of my favorites.


  • Racking your brain trying to come up with the perfect gift for Feather Nester this year? Look no further! ReadyMade magazine sounds like my dream come true! I haven't seen a copy of this in person, but Amazon describes it as a DIY for young people, often using household items repurposed. LOVE the concept.
  • This ultrasonic aromatherapy diffuser is what I would buy everyone I know, if I were made of money, which, I assure you, I am not. Or this lower-tech, but equally desirable, version. (both via The Tranquil Parent)
  • Project Peanut Butter: for the socially-conscious loved one on your list who has everything. From The Tranquil Parent: "Want to share your good fortune with others? Consider this amazing cause for kids in Malawi and Sierra Leone, Africa where 70% of children are malnourished. Project Peanut Butter is a therapeutic feeding program which uses a peanut/dairy/vitamin food which provides a 95% recovery rate (!) for severely malnourished children. Did you know that half of all child deaths worldwide are caused by malnutrition? $15 treats one child."
  • These play food items from LillyBean are inspiring me with a whole host of crafting possibilities, next time I have infinite time on my hands.


Any big recommendations on your holiday shopping list?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Giving Thanks


A week ago, I lost my wallet somewhere between exiting the grocery store and driving home. The Husband and I suspect that I probably set it on top of the car as I was loading the Papoose into her seat and then forgot about it.

Fortunately, I realized it was missing pretty much the second I got home. I searched everywhere in the bags, the car, then drove back to the store, making the Husband come with me. We searched the parking lot about five times and asked inside whether anyone had turned it in. They hadn't.

I was a wreck with tears, anxiety, guilt...we've started a new budget around here that involves carrying a lot of cash to reduce reliance on the plastic, so I had close to $100 in the wallet.

Not to mention: how many times does a girl have to cancel her credit and bank cards in one year due to theft? I realized that this was the fourth time as I called up my friends at Visa, AmEx, etc. to go through the rigamarole once again. Then we headed for Ouiser's where she handed me a glass of wine about 30 seconds after walking in her door.

The next morning, we swung by the grocery store again. The Husband recognized it as a slim possibility, but a possibility nonetheless, that we may have gotten back to the store too fast the night before. Someone could have found the wallet on their way into the store and proceeded with their shopping, figuring they'd turn it in as they checked out. Then it would have to get from the cashier, at the end of his or her shift, to the people at the customer service counter, etc. Anyway, it was worth a shot.

I went up to the counter expecting the same routine as the night before:
"I lost my wallet here. Has anyone turned one in?"
...quick rifling through the drawer...
"Nope, sorry."

But this time it was different (you saw this coming, right?)!

"I lost my wallet last night. Do you know if anyone turned it in?"
"What does it look like?"
"Um...(!)...black leather."
...rifling through a different drawer...
"What's the name?"
OMG!!! "Feather nester."
And simple as that, she handed it over.

A Prada wallet. Yeah, right, a fake Prada wallet, but still, it says "Prada" right on it. And someone turned it in.

All the cash was there.

All the cards were there.

Someone in my neck of the woods has a heart of gold and my faith in humanity felt another huge uplift, honestly, comparable to how I felt when I went to bed November 3 knowing that when I woke up the first black president would have been elected. I know the significance of my situation hardly seems comparable. It was just a wallet for crying out loud. But that election restored a lot of my hope and faith in humanity, on a very large, grand, and symbolically meaningful scale. The returned wallet did the same on a very small, personal, and symbolically meaningful scale.

I have a lot to give thanks for this year. But today I'm thinking of that individual whom I'll never be able to identify. That person who did one really nice thing for a complete stranger that they would never meet. Perhaps they did it without a second thought; perhaps they were tempted and struggled with their inner morality before doing the right thing. Either way, I'm so touched and it has been eating at me that I had no way of knowing who it was so I could bake them some brownies, at least.

Today, the perfect thank you occurred to me. I am hereby pledging to make a donation to a charity in honor of that good Samaritan. I haven't chosen the charity yet, and I'm going to wait a few weeks to do it (the Husband's company has announced that there will be upcoming layoffs; so for the sake of caution and his blood pressure, I will wait until we are in a more secure position before doing this), but I'm announcing it publicly, not so I'll get any credit from all of you, but so all of you will HOLD ME TO IT! Please, don't let the mommy brain delete this thought from my head along with everything I ever learned in kindergarten. If I don't update you all in a couple months, someone remind me! You may think I'm kidding, but I'm not. I've lost at least 50 IQ points since the Papoose was born.

Anyone want to suggest a charity?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Honey Almond Cookies

Made these cookies for my book club meeting tonight. We read The Secret Life of Bees, so I did a quick search last night for something honey-themed.

Not bad. Not great. They're a nice, light cookie that was great with coffee, and would probably be even better with tea, but I wouldn't make them for a special occasion.

Personally, I felt the almond flavor was too weak, though you could taste the honey. If you like a really subtle cookie, these might be just the thing. They were certainly easy and quick to make.

I'm hoping to make time this holiday season to share some more cookie adventures. As long as my waistline can take it...

Hurts So Good


The Papoose's second taste of ice cream


At her party, Mr. Ouiser fed her the first ever taste of ice cream. Her first bite went down with no response. The second bite was immediately followed by some wicked head shaking (brain freeze?).

We decided to try again the next night, her actual birthday, at a dinner celebrating the coinciding birthdays of my mother and Mr. Ouiser. Mr. Ouiser again had the honors and the results were equally dubious...

Or not? Maybe it's something in his delivery.

Top Ten Reasons I Deserve a Second Pot of Coffee

  1. Papoosekin decided that 5:45 was an appropriate time to get up this morning.
  2. Once up, NOT A SINGLE BINKY could be located in the house, despite the manic searching of two parents. Before 6 am.
  3. Unidentifiable substances are starting to make regular appearances in my daughter's diaper.
  4. Bob the cat is tangled in the blind cords. Again.
  5. I drove all the way to Wal-Mart for a gross of new binkies before remembering that I'm out of cash and have no credit cards at the moment. (That's a whole other post.)
  6. Papoose fell asleep on the way to Wal-Mart the second time, after driving back to retrieve the cash.
  7. Papoose FREAKED OUT when she saw the packages and packages of dozens of binkies at Wal-Mart, but couldn't get through the plastic packaging to ANY of them. At 7 am.
  8. Allowing a toddler to feed Cheerios to the dog to distract her from the two minutes of binky-boiling that must occur is a good way to delay the binky gratification.
  9. I've been shrieked at for apparently reading Brown Bear WRONG, ALL WRONG before the morning nap.
  10. The dark circles under my eyes are proof enough, only I'm not quite exhausted enough to think it's a good idea to post a picture of them.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

No-poo

Scarlet tagged me for a meme on favorite beauty products. I love a good meme as much as the next girl, but this one's a toughie for me since it's pretty much all I can do these days to shower, never mind use beauty products. Also, I'm in the process of greening up all my toiletries and makeup, but that requires a lot of using up a lot of ho-hum products that I already have, and that are too boring to blog about. I'll try to remember to spout off about lots of green products as I trial them, but I can share a little experiment I started this week. I was planning to wait until I was further along to mention it, but why not let the cat out of the bag early?

I'm trying to give up shampoo. And conditioner. It's called no-pooing and you basically wash your hair with baking soda and rinse with vinegar. My main motivation is saving money, followed closely by saving planet. There are a gazillion websites out there about how to do this. Most of them are very vague and say things like, "Mix baking soda and water. You'll have to play around with your ratios to figure out what works for you." So there's no point in me linking anything for you.

The point is that baking soda supposedly strips out all kinds of residues that shampoo and conditioner leave behind. You also avoid exposing yourself and your environment to all kinds of chemicals that you really ought not to be exposed to.

I've tried this once so far and already think I did not use enough baking soda. It doesn't help that I dragged a Costco-sized bag of baking soda into the bathroom with me and a glass bottle of apple cider vinegar from the kitchen. I then tried to dump baking soda into an empty shampoo bottle while standing in the shower. I'm not going to save much money with half the baking soda going down the drain. Clearly, I need to get my containers prepared before getting in the shower next time (tonight).

I will say this: My hair did not feel squeaky clean like it does after shampooing, but it did feel clean. It was strangely...thicker? I don't know. It felt like there was more of it. The texture was a little off, but I haven't had my haircut since March, so it may have more to do with that. It did not smell vinegar-y.

Anyway, I'll keep y'all updated. I know the status of my hair and hair-cleaning rituals is keeping you on the edge of your seats.

Haiku Mama

I didn't have the time or sanity to mention yesterday that the little haiku I tapped out on my keyboard was totally inspired by a book that the Husband's Aunt L bought while visiting last weekend. The four of us (Papoosekin included) were hanging out at our local caffeine refueling station, which also carries some of the best little gifts known to man. L and I were laughing riotously at this book. Thankfully, they also make one for papas because the Husband was missing the Mama jokes entirely.

Here's a sampling from Haiku Mama by Kari Anne Roy (best read, in your head, with a Japanese accent. Or out loud, if you don't think you'll get sent to cultural sensitivity training by your manager):

Flickering bright lights;
sound and stories called "movies."
They still exist, right?

**********************************

Learning the "mom look":
Squint eyes, frown mouth, point finger.
But try not to laugh.

**********************************

Swingset has no brakes.
Revelation to young child
as he's kicked in the mouth.

**********************************

Why the funny look?
Color of baby's poopies
not fascinating?

**********************************

Textured wall upgrade
not really worth the money
filled with finger paint.

**********************************

Hyper-exhaustion
sounds like an oxymoron
unless you are two.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Haiku Tuesday

No pictures. Haven't taken any. No complete sentences. Only this:

Whining on and on
Baby plots with cats and dog
Torture is an art

They're trying to kill me slowly, I swear. The whining is incessant with no apparent cause. The solution is apparent:

"Hold me! No, like, all the time. Yes, I'm serious. I don't care if you need to go to the bathroom. I don't care that you need to wash the dishes from breakfast. I don't care that I'm crying because I slipped on the books that I threw on the floor and won't stop whining long enough for you to pick them up. HOLD ME NOW AND DO SOMETHING INTERESTING THE WHOLE TIME!!! And don't think you can pacify me with the television, even with milk, binky, and your lap. It didn't work the last three times you tried it and it won't work now either. Everything is wrong and I demand you fix it! NOW!!! And, no, Papa is not an acceptable substitute. For anything. Ever."

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

What Kind of Tree Are You?

A few years ago, I attended a meditation meeting with my parents. We focused on ourselves as trees and were supposed to be thinking about our trunks and branches growing up, while I was overwhelmed with the feeling of my roots shooting down into the earth. I'm not entirely sure what that meant, but the group leader seemed impressed.

This morning I stumbled upon a fun activity at Seventh Generation that reminded me of that experience. Pick your tree shape, type in the ingredients that make you you, and watch your tree grow! You can name it and add it to the forest when you're done. I can't figure out how to show you my tree here, but if any of you are tech-savvy enough to do so, I would love to see yours!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

On Your First Birthday

Well, ahem, NEAR your first birthday...

I have time to right this because you're in the midst of some kind of nap marathon right now. You've been in there for nearly four hours after weeks of 45-minute naps, no naps, half naps, catnaps. You're sleep schedule has been all over the map this month and it's a sign that you're growing, getting ready to drop that first nap, sleeping longer at night. Turning into a big girl.

I know a lot of mamas who cried when their babies turned one. Your Aunt L asked me if I did and was surprised when I said no. I was surprised, too. Your mama is a bit sentimental and this is a huge milestone for us both. You stopped being my baby when you took those first steps almost three months ago. There's no denying your toddlerhood. And this first birthday is the absolute click of that door shutting behind us. And I'm not sad.

Sure, there's a part of me that sees pregnant women or mamas with new babies or pictures of you from your first few months and feels some small longing for that time. And I've been thinking a lot about that feeling because 90% of my brain wants to smack that other part of me upside the head and demand to know what ludicrous brand of insanity it's subscribed to now to even entertain such a notion as a second child for more than a quarter of a second. And that self-destructive 10% has the gall to look offended and defensive when it presents hormonal evidence. But there's more to it's case than that.

The most gratifying thing about being your mother so far is watching your personality unfold. I have no words to describe how amazing and breathtaking it is to watch so much personhood express itself from such a tiny body. We watch your brain develop and are awestruck. The first time your father and I saw you put the cap on your bottle all by yourself, out of nowhere, we wondered, "Who taught her that? How did she know to do that? How is she that coordinated?" The fact that you figure so much out on your own, that you don't need to be taught everything is both obvious and inspiring all at once.

You've recently discovered magnets. You peel them off the refrigerator, slap them back on, pat, pat, pat (presumably, to make sure it sticks), step back, study your work, and start over again. It is hands-down the cutest thing I've seen in my life.

You consistently use your version of the "all done" baby sign when you want to get down from your highchair. Rather than the hand shake, palms facing in, that I've tried to teach you, you hold both hands up, palms out, and shake them frantically to let us know you want down from your highchair. You also have ingeniously employed this sign on the changing table, but to no avail.

You spent your twelfth month walking heedlessly off every ledge in your path, trusting that I would catch you, until one time I didn't. We were at the playground across from Ouiser's house and all three Ouisers, your papa, you, and I were there. You landed forehead first off a concrete step and had your first real injury. I was actually kind of glad, hoping it would knock some sense into you. The problem with a baby beginning to walk as young as you did is that they don't have the sense to keep up with their physical prowess. Consequence has taught you some caution and you now yell for help at the top of every step. Your papa accidentally left the gate at the bottom of the stairs open the other day. I only knew because I heard you calling for me and found you halfway up the stairs, stuck, yelling for help to get down. (And I'm thanking your guardian angel for that one.)

You love to try on my headbands. You have a Rainbow-Bright-esque cardigan sweater that you love to carry around the house to no end, on the hanger. You splash like crazy in the bathtub whenever you're in there with Ouiser's S or your cousin, J. You stomp your feet when you're mad. You are binky-dicted. You are very into riding your rocking bear, or anyone's rocking or riding anything. If your papa or I rest our heads in your new chair, you possessively shove us out and sit down, reclaiming it. You think it's hysterical if I pull your binky out of your mouth with my teeth. Your favorite book is The Very Hungry Caterpillar and you've pretty much killed it with love and gnawing and standing upon and flipping over and over again to the page where "On Saturday, he ate through one piece of chocolate cake," etc.

You seem to have inherited your papa's daredevil streak, his disregard for authority, his inability to entertain himself, and his high pain tolerance, as well as my sensitivity, low frustration threshold, and high emotional volatility. You're smart as the dickens, determined, strong-willed, and way too pretty for your own good. I'm not going to lie to you, we're scared.

Scared and captivated and spellbound and so in love.

Happy birthday, sweet, sweet girl. I can't wait to spend the next year with you.

Love,

Mama

Squeeky McSqueekers


Have I mentioned that the Papoose has endless nicknames? One she's carried since she was an infant is Squeeky McSqueekers. That one dates back to the first couple months of her life when she slept in the Pack N Play in our bedroom. She'd make itty, bitty, squeeky noises in her crib and she sounded just like a mouse. Then when those teeth started to come in, we felt that the Halloween costume pretty much created itself.

And lest you have the sense of the woman who took our money at the zoo's cafeteria, she is a mouse, sitting in her cheese. NOT an elephant wrapped in a giraffe print blanket.

Our Little Pumpkin

These pics are from Gentry's Farm, here in TN. We had such a great time here. It will definitely be a yearly tradition.

I had no idea one could look so cool in a pumpkin hat. But I guess when your ride is a tricked out SUV of a wagon, anything is possible.

The Papoose was too small to reach the corn in the trough so the Husband just plopped her down right in the middle of it!

Today the Orchard, Tomorrow the World!

Aha, see now the posts come fast and furiously (with no sign of Vin Diesel, I swear). I don't think it should count against me that all I can supply you with is eye candy of the Papoose. At least I'm giving you something now, right? Let's face it, most of you skip the text and go straight for the pics anyway. I could be writing a thesis on my intent for world domination and no one would notice. Well, maybe the CIA.
These are from an apple orchard on the other side of Nashville.

I made the best applesauce I've ever tasted from these apples.
We also bought some peach cider (they were out of apple), by which I was underwhelmed.

Kissing October Good-bye

So, let's just pretend the entire month of October never happened, shall we? Well, okay, we don't need to ignore October, specifically. It is my favorite month, after all. Let's just ignore the fact that I haven't posted for a month. And we'll start fresh with November.

But that doesn't mean I'm not going to fill you in on October. Anyone left out there still following my blog after my long and unexplained absence is probably itching for pics from the Papoose's first birthday part. But you'll have to wait. When we left off last, the Papoose and I were headed south to visit Toddler Tamer et al.
We had a fabulous time. It was so much fun seeing the two little cousins together. J thought everything the Papoose did was HI-LARIOUS, including saying, "Bah!" which he laughed about for 20 minutes straight. No exaggeration. The kid has the best sense of humor of anyone I know.


And, of course, the Papoose wanted to do EVERYthing that J did, including play with whatever he was playing with, read whatever book he was reading, eat whatever he was eating, drink whatever he was drinking. J was such a good sharer, though I think his cousin't grabbiness was wearing on his patience by the end of the week.We also visited a great pumpkin patch near Austin, where the kids pretty much got to run around willy-nilly while Toddler Tamer, Mr. Toddler Tamer, the kids' grandfather, and I tried to keep up. It was great fun.

More local pumpkin patch pictures to come...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

This Will Not Be Satisfying

I haven't dropped off the face of the earth. But I am sick as a dog, thanks to a sick Papoose who likes to zerbert into my mouth. Yum. And now the Husband is coming down with it. We are again a plagued family. And I'm desperately trying to get a Halloween costume put together. So that's my excuse for being MIA. I have lots of great pics and stories to come. Hoping this will buy me a little more time from my audience of five or so readers. I'm actually surprised it took this long before I got a complaint.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

It's a Fast-Paced Life Around Here

Excuse me, peeps, while my jet-setting life and I rush off for another wild adventure. This time to the little green patch of Texas that is Austin, to invade the house of Toddler Tamer, so the Papoose can spend valuable bonding time with her aunt, uncle, and cousin. And so I can have a glass of wine (or two, or three) with my brother- and sister-in-law.

We have big plans, people, big plans! Yard sale-ing, festival hopping, outlet shopping (be still my throbbing credit card), and little 'un chasing. It's going to be a blast. Once we get off the plane. The plane I am not looking forward to.

Oy. Wish us luck. See you in a week or so.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Tina Fey Was Born for This Stuff

I so don't have time for this because I am desperately trying to finish up some copy editing before leaving for Toddler Tamer's on Wednesday.

BUT. This is so hysterical entirely because parts of it are almost verbatim exactly what Sarah Palin actually said in the Katie Couric interview. SNL must be praying that McPalin will get elected. They won't have to write anything for four years.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Color Me Internet-Obsessed

A fun little time suck: Colorstrology

My color is Lyons Blue. Rowr. Kinda fun because blue is my favorite color. Apparently, I'm also imaginative, charismatic, and social.

What secrets does Pantone know about you?

*By the way, the Papoose's color is Chinese Red and she's perceptive, kind, and magnetic. The Husband's is Hibiscus (heh heh, that's another word for PINK!) and he's determined, persuasive, and...wait for it...SPARKLY! Oh, he's going to love me if he reads this.*

In Which Katie's Crumbling Patience Is Almost Palpable

In for a penny, in for a pound, eh?



Okay, and following the advice below, starting....NOW!

A Call to Arms

I try, I try not to inundate my handful or readers with political ramblings. Aside from the odd link to the political ramblings of others, I've mostly succeeded. But I received this email from my mother-in-law this morning, and it resonated particularly with me. Ouiser and I were chatting just this morning about some of the very ideas in this essay, and some of the advice, taken out of context, could apply bipartisanly, so I'm sharing. Bold font is mine.

A CALL TO ARMS

How to handle the fury brought on by this election? Register voters, hit the streets, pray. Stop talking about her. Talk about Obama.

By Anne Lamott



Sept. 16, 2008 | I had to leave church Sunday morning when it turned out that the sermon was not about bearing up under desperate circumstances, when you feel like you're going crazy because something is being perpetrated upon you and your country that is so obscene that it simply cannot be happening.

I sat outside a 7-11 and had a sacramental Dove chocolate bar. Jeez: Here we are again. A man and a woman whose values we loathe and despise -- lying, rageful and incompetent, so dangerous to children and old people, to innocent people in every part of the world -- are being worshiped, exalted by the media, in a position to take a swing at all that is loveliest about this earth and what's left of our precious freedoms.

When I got home from church, I drank a bunch of water to metabolize the Dove bar and called my Jesuit friend, who I know hates these people, too. I asked, "Don't you think God finds these smug egomaniacs morally repellent? Recoils from their smugness as from hot flame?" And he said, "Absolutely. They are everything He or She hates in a Christian."

I have been in a better mood ever since, and have decided not to even say this woman's name anymore, because she fills me with such existential doubt, such a sense of impending doom and disbelief, that only the Germans could possibly have words for it. Nor am I going to say the word "lipstick" again until after the election, as it would only be used against me. Or "polar bear," because that one image makes me sadder than even horrible old I can stand.

I hate to criticize. And I love to kill wolves as much as the next person does. But this woman takes such pride in her ignorance, doesn't have a doubt in the world about her messianic calling, that it makes anyone of decency feel nauseated -- spiritually, emotionally and physically ill.

I say that with love. As we say in Texas. (Also, we say, "Bless her heart.")

We felt this grief and nausea during the run-up to the war in Iraq. We felt it after the 2004 election. And now we feel it again.

But since there are still six weeks until the election, and since the stakes are as high as the sky, which should definitely not be forced to endure four more years of the same, we have got to get a grip. There are millions of people to register to vote, millions of dollars to be raised. We really cannot go around feeling flat and defeated, with the need to metabolize the rotten meat that this one particular candidate and the media have forced upon us.

One of the tiny metabolic suggestions I have to offer -- if, like me, you choose not to have her name on your lips, like an oozy cold sore (I say that with love) -- is to check out a Web site called the Sarah Palin Baby Name Generator. There you can find out what she and her husband would have named you if you had been their baby. My name, Anne, for instance, would be Krinkle Bearcat. John, her running mate, would be named Stick Freedom. George would be Crunk Petrol. And so on.

First of all, go find out what your own name would be. Then for one day refuse to use the name of these people who are so damaging to earth and to our very souls -- so, "I don't have to understand anything, it's all fuzzy math. Trust me. I'm the decider." From now on, when working for Obama, talk about Obama, talk about his policies, the issues, the economy, the war in Iraq, poverty, the last eight years, Joe Biden. You don't have to mention Crunk Petrol, or his sidekick, Shaver Razorback.

And you sure as hell don't have to mention Claw Washout -- she is absolutely, hands-down the most ludicrous person ever to be nominated. She's a "South Park" character. There was a mix-up. Mistakes were made.

Everything you need to know about how to bear up during these two months is already inside you. Go within: Work on your own emotional acre. Stand still, and hurt, and feel crazy. Then drink a lot of water, pray, meditate, rest. Rest is a spiritual act. Now, I am a reform Christian, so it is permissible for me to secretly believe that God hates this woman, too. I heard God slam down a couple of shooters while she was talking the other night.

Figure out one thing you can do every single day to be a part of the solution, concentrating on swing states. Money, walking precincts, registering voters, whatever. This is the only way miracles ever happen -- left foot, right foot, left foot, breathe. Right foot, left foot, right foot, breathe. The great novelist E.L. Doctorow once said that writing a novel is like driving at night with the headlights on: You can only see a little ways in front of you, but you can make the whole journey this way. It is the truest of all things; the only way to write a book, raise a child, save the world.

As my anonymous pal Krinkle Bearcat once wrote: Laughter is carbonated holiness. It is chemo. So do whatever it takes to keep your sense of humor. Rent Christopher Guest movies, read books by Roz Chast and Maira Kalman. Picture Stick Freedom in his Batman underpants, having one of his episodes of rage alone in one of his seven bedrooms. Or having one of his bathroomy little conversations with Froth Moonshine.(Bless their hearts.) Try to remember that even Karl Rove has accused him of being a lying suck.

Reread everything Molly Ivins and Jim Hightower ever wrote. Write down that great line of Molly's, that "Freedom fighters don't always win, but they're always right." Tape it next to your phone. Call the loneliest person you know. Go flirt with the oldest person at the bookstore.

Fill up a box with really cool clothes, that you haven't worn in a year, and take it to a thrift shop. Take gray water outside and water whatever is growing on your deck. This is not a bad metaphor to live by. I think it is why we are here. Drink more fluids. And take very gentle care of yourself and the people you most love: We need you now more than ever.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Home Again, Home Again

Jiggety jig.

After a whirlwind tour of NoCA, the Papoose and I are back on Southern soil, and she is one well-traveled 10-month-old.

The Papoose was an angel on our flights, no crying, no fussing. But dang. She was all over the place! We got lucky on the way out and had empty flights with all three seats to ourselves. On the way home, I had someone next to me the whole time, but still had two seats. Somehow, her diaper leaked and she peed all over me during the flight. The good news is that I was wearing a dress over jeans, so I was able to just take the jeans off. The bad news is that there's a Southwest employee out there probably still trying to get the pee smell out of the floor of their plane. Stay out of row 17.

FYI, did you know that you can get a gate pass for whomever is dropping you off at the airport if you're traveling alone with a baby? So I didn't have to rely on the kindness of strangers to fold my stroller as I limped through security this time. This is a key improvement. Nevertheless, after our next lone trip to see Toddler Tamer in eight days, I'd just as soon not fly alone with the Papoose again until she's old enough for a DVD player or Nintendo DS or iPod or something.

I did not take nearly enough pics, but here are a few:

The Husband's aunt's newish kittens: Frou-frou and Caesar


The Papoose's Nummy (read: paternal grandmother) has French doors at the front of her house that look out onto her horse/goat pasture. The Papoose spent much time monitoring the goings-on of the pasture from those doors. Peer out the left door. "HO! Ah. HO! Ah." Walk, walk, walk to the other door. Peer out. "Ho! Ah. Ho! Ah." Repeat endlessly. This was, obviously, taken with her on the other side of said doors.

Farm-girl Papoose.