Thursday, December 31, 2009

at the turn of the year

I stood on a rooftop in downtown Seattle, waiting for the clock to flip from 11:59 to 12. This, despite the fact that I had been suffering from some kind of cataclysmic sinus infection-flu-fever trifecta since Christmas. I was wrapped in a wool plaid blanket that I'd borrowed from my friend's couch and I did my best to stand up straight. There was talk about the voracious flesh-eating plague sure to hit each and every ATM come the strike of midnight. A three character disaster churning in the bowels of every computer in the universe: WHY TOO KAY. Every city on the planet was holding major celebrations marking the shift from the twentieth century to the twenty-first. Every city (including BOISE, IDAHO) with fireworks and downtown gatherings. Every city except Seattle. The fireworks that had been shot from the Space Needle for every New Year celebration since (sometime... I have no idea... but it was a long while) were canceled due to a bomb threat. We stood on the roof and wondered over a world where Boise had fireworks and we did not. Clearly, we had a lot to worry about.

Since that night, I've celebrated nine other New Year's Eve's. Some of them much quieter. Some of them much warmer. Some of them less plague-ridden. All of them much happier. Because my life has changed so much since that night.

Ten years, baby. Can you believe it? What were you doing ten years ago?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

a post of her own

I haven't talked about her much. I try to respect her privacy. But it's her birthday today, and I think you need to hear about my mom.

She's the kind of mother who baked her own bread (and still does). The kind of mother who also makes her own jams and jellies, who doesn't know the meaning of a store-bought pie, who fills the freezer with homemade cinnamon rolls and cookies and does it all in a spotless kitchen.

She's the kind of mother who didn't blink when her house was full-to-the brim with children (hers, the neighbor's, the cousins) - the noise and the chaos spilling out onto the porch, the front lawn, the back patio. She's the kind of mother who didn't mind when Stacie and I played Barbie-has-a-multi-level-highrise on the stairs. She's the kind of mother who never said no when I asked if Stacie could spent the night again... and again... and again. The kind of mother who let us slide down the stairs in our sleeping bags, who let us build forts in the living room, who let us play school in the dining room, who let us sleep in the backyard, who let us be kids.

She's the kind of mother who taught me about being nice, about treating people the way I wanted to be treated. She's the kind of mother who taught me about consequences. The kind of mother who didn't want to see me fail, but would let me learn that every action has a consequence and sometimes those consequences weren't so pleasant.

She's the kind of mother who cheered me on and wanted me to succeed, who invested in the things I cared about (summer art classes, dance classes, gymnastics, summer debate camp). The kind of mother who wanted me to be happy.

She's the kind of mother who came to my rescue. The kind of mother who didn't think twice about calling other mothers. The kind of mother who was involved, who cared, who listened. The kind of mother who, when there was nothing else she could do, would sit on my bed and cry with me.

She's the kind of mother who modeled the behavior she expected of me. The kind of mother who helped, who served, who volunteered. The kind of mother who is always working for the greater good.

In the short time that I've been a mother, I've learned that it's not easy. You try to be and do what's best for your baby but when you close that bedroom door at night you're drained and exhausted from the sheer effort of breathing in and out. Effort that only occasionally yields the results you want. When I sleep, I dream of being the mother that Bean needs. And I dream about my mother. Because she did it right.

And I'm so grateful that she did.

Happy birthday, mom.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

about the hair cut

It turns out that I am a heartless, soulless, Parent Zombie who is quite literally DEAD INSIDE.

I took Bean to get her first hair cut. And I'm glad. GLAD, I say, because her hair was getting long and wispy and bedraggled. I didn't shed a single tear before, during, or after. I sat there in the salon chair with Bean on my lap, slightly irritated that she refused to wear the plastic hair deflecting smock - and doubly irritated that the hair deflecting smock that I was wearing could only do about one third of its intended duty because it was all bunched up around my lap where Bean was sitting (my hands peeking out between the folds, happily collecting little feathery bits of Discarded Bean Hair). Not a single tear.

The hair stylist lady snipped and snipped and I didn't cry. I didn't even think wistfully about the hair leaving Bean's head because I was instead discussing a pernicious bout of Bean Dry Scalp and the possible solutions for it with the hair stylist.

Bean busied herself with an Elmo video they put on the television and refused to smile even ONCE for the pictures they tried to take of her.

Meet Stoneface and her trusty manservant, Smocky.

The entire affair took twenty minutes: in, smocked, cut, paid, out.

I was very happy with the results. I think she looks smashing, and I think we have now met her haircut for the next three years. Hello!

Chip, on the other hand, proved what we already knew: here is the heart of our family, the sweetness, the melty chocolate center. Here is the parent who mourned the loss of the wispy hair. Here is the parent who will greatly miss the baby in little girl's clothing. He said she's not a baby anymore. She's a little girl. And she's wonderful, just the same. But she's different. She's growing up.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

what we do

We get our hair cut.

We have a smashing Christmas.

We put frogs on our heads.

We (badly) share ornaments with our friends.

We laugh.

We spy on our child in church (through the doors... that's her... tiny... climbing on a chair).

We give kisses.

What do you do?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

fa la la la laaaaaaaaaa - NOW EDITED WITH MORE LAAAAA

I have a strange Christmas tradition of ruining Christmas songs for Chip. Two years ago it was Winter Wonderland. This year we're focusing on John Lennon's Happy Xmas. We were listening to the song a while back and I mentioned how much I HATE hearing Yoko Ono's caterwauling in the background chorus.
Chip: What? Yoko Ono sings on this song?
Chip: I thought it was KIDS! A group of off-kilter singing KIDS!
Whimsy: It is. But it's also Yoko Ono. And she sounds awful.

I could see the alarm in Chip's face as he listened to Ono's cat-in-heat screeching. I hate to say it, but once you notice it, you can't NOT notice it. Ever. Again. It becomes the Song That Is Really Sweet Until Yoko Ono Joins In.

Which is exactly what happened with Chip.

From Chip, day three: I can't listen to that song anymore without hearing her. Did she do it ON PURPOSE? Wasn't John Lenon a musician who is supposed to KNOW when someone should not be allowed to sing? ON THEIR RECORD?

Yes. And yes.

So I've done it again, ruined a perfectly good song for dearest Chip. And now, if you didn't already know about the Terrible Singing Injustice of Yoko Ono, I've done it for you. You're welcome.

Now while we're on the subject of Christmas music, let's talk about one of my least favorites. I used to really HATE Little Drummer Boy but now don't mind it so much as long as it's a nicer version without lots of RUM TUM TUMMING in the background. I think we should now hold an impromptu celebration of Worst Christmas Songs Ever Created.

In the category of Traditional Worst Christmas Song, I'm giving a hearty nomination to Deck the Halls. Could a song BE more irrelevant? First of all, I don't know ANYONE who decks their halls with holly. It's a BUSH. And it's VERY PRICKLY. Not the kind of thing that you should be draping up and down your hall. Second, I get that this is the season to be jolly and all, but I don't personally have any piece of clothing that could be considered HAPPY (this for the lyric "don ye now your gay apparel"). I'm going to skip over the very ancient use of gay for happy and just say this: I DON'T HAVE HAPPY CLOTHES, AND NEITHER DO YOU. And I'd venture to guess that no one ever had happy clothes. Clothes are clothes and they should be worn as such. Lastly, this dumb song is just that: DUMB. With all the FA LA LA LA LA madness going on, you feel terribly stupid singing it. And if you don't, you should. Because I said so.

In the category of Worst Regional Christmas Song, I'm going with this little Northwest Gem, Christmas in the Northwest. Chip was the unfortunate trapped listener on Saturday when we drove around delivering Christmas plates of cookies to friends. I ran to a door and delivered some sugar, and when I came back Chip informed me that I'd missed hearing it. And then he reminded me that we're awfully lucky that we get a CHRISTMAS WRAPPED IN GREEEEEEEEN. Think about those poor unfortunate souls in Texas or Arkansas. THEY GET A CHRISTMAS WRAPPED IN BROWN. I don't even want to imagine that song. (And as for that poor soul who wrote on the page that this is "regional favorite since 1985", I think they tied you up and forced you to listen to CHRISTMAS IN THE NORTHWEST eleventy billion times until you decided that yes, it really IS a regional favorite mumble mumble mumble drool drool drool.)

And in the category of Top Worst Christmas Song, I'm going with Sippin in Seattle's Latte Land. It's another stellar regional tune and if you haven't heard it, you should be grateful. And then you should listen to it. BECAUSE IT IS SO TRAGIC. I feel a little bad saying all of this, because here's a lady who really loves her song and loves her town. Loves it so much she puts an entire album together celebrating the magic of Christmas in Seattle. Including favorites such as "We Wish You a Merry Fishmas" - and don't miss that old chestnut, "The Twelve Days of Coffee". As for the Latte song... I don't know how I feel about living in a world where someone not only WRITES a serious parody song about drinking coffee for Christmas, but PERFORMS it. And RECORDS it. And it gets PLAYED ON THE RADIO. Repeatedly. Because somehow, someway, every Christmas I hear it at least twelve dozen times.

And now that I've dispelled any notion you might have had about us Northwesterner's having great taste in music, it's your turn. Whatcha got for terrible Christmas tunes?

* * *

Edited to add the following additional terrible Christmas songs because I KEPT THINKING OF MORE SONGS AFTER I POSTED THIS.

In the late-night added category of Kitschy Kristmas songs that make you want to hurt yourself - I am nominating two songs: All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth and that awful chipmunk Christmas song. Blech.

And in the other late-night added category of Horrible Mention, I give you Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer (WHY? TELL ME WHY?) and the Twelve Days of Christmas (clearly the song that NEVER ENDS).

Monday, December 21, 2009

elf sighting

We can't be sure just how or why she left the toy-making confines of Santa's workshop and has taken up residence in the Whimsy kitchen.

Or, for that matter, the interest in apples.

But we're thinking we'll keep her. At least through Christmas.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

directions for the use of "perfect"


It started with a call from Kate on Monday. She asked me if I was a member of a certain Facebook group of moms. A resounding NO from me (I shun all FB group activities). To which she replied that she wasn't a member anymore either in response to a recent group posted question HOW PERFECT IS YOUR PERFECT TODDLER? (Okay, maybe they didn't ask that exactly... but they did say PERFECT at least once.) I expected tongue-in-cheek answers. Apparently so did Kate.

Instead, she read responses like

(again, I might have overstated one of those...)

My response to Kate: SNORT. (Yes, I snorted.)

I am now posting a few simple directions of the use of perfect. It seems to me that the world needs a few simple directions for the use of perfect if a bunch of crazy-pants-head-wearing ladies on Facebook are going to wreak havoc like that.

Whimsy's Directions for the Use of "Perfect"

1. Sarcastically. As in, "My daughter created the PERFECT gift for me in her diaper yesterday."
2. Cheekily. As in, "I am striving for the PERFECT Christmas by doing absolutely nothing at all."

3. Sparingly.

To celebrate this perfunctory Perfect How To, I present to you my list of PERFECT CHILD BEHAVIOR (using rules 1, 2, and 3).

We spend a significant amount of time in this position at our house. Think I'm mean for catching this on film? It might be a tantrum... but then again, it might be my PERFECT child washing my PERFECT floors. You be the judge.

Maybe a seeming stretch for the Perfect Pictorial - but this was mere seconds before Bean stood on the chair and rammed the back into the wall repeatedly demanding that I read her a book. Bonus points for marks on wall and little bits of powdered drywall in a heap on the floor.

Every morning, without fail, Bean demands PERFECTLY a cup of pretzels. It is usually when I am still stumbling blurry-eyed down the hallway to her bedroom. MAMA! PO! And if I don't react quickly enough it becomes PO!PO!PO!PO!PO!PO!PO!POOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Until my ears bleed.

The perfect child exhibiting perfect Christmas behavior. Mother: STOP GRABBING THE PRESENTS.

Bean with Kate's Shelby at a park this summer. Notice Bean's perfect example of MORE GIVE ME MORE. We clearly don't feed this child enough food.

What about you? Any PERFECT behavior (yours, theirs, and otherwise) that you'd like to share with the class?

Monday, December 14, 2009

christmas in 2-D

My memories of Christmas seem to focus in and out --- fading from one image to the next in one montage of nostalgia. I think of a house crammed with people and lots of baking smells (cinnamon rolls, oh heaven). I think of the Christmas tree in the living room, c
overed in a million faded ornaments (elves and sleds and toy boxes made of foam and plastic). I think of Christmas Eve with Aunt Chris and Uncle Clyde and their four kids - how I'd watch mom work on the dinner that afternoon, hoping that the whole thing could just get underway so we'd EAT and then OPEN A PRESENT. I think of exchanging gifts with Stacie, and how fun it was to watch her open the present I picked out just for her. I remember the one year she gave me the most brilliant wallet (a wonderful forest green with a zipper all around the outside--- and how it got STOLEN at school just a few short months later). I think of the Christmas music that we'd have playing, the familiar songs like worn flannel. I think about that whole magical feeling of wonder and hope and imagination like anything could happen in the very next moment. And I think about our annual trip to get our Christmas tree.

I grew up in a suburb of Los Angeles, so it's not like there were a plethora of choices for rustic Christmas tree farms tucked up in the mountains. Somehow, my memory has us cutting down our own tree every year. There was some kind of actual tree farm about twenty minutes away from our house. These people were able to plant and grow living breathing Christmas trees right there in the Southern California smog. My memory has us cutting down our tree in the chilly December air, strapping it to the top of our car, and then going home to eat donuts and drink hot chocolate. It's one of those memories that is all the more real for its compaction of one year's image to the next - year after year doing this same ritual. Magic.

On Saturday, we got our Christmas tree. With a great deal less fanfare and pomp than my childhood. Here's us getting into the car (coats! hats! mittens!). Here's us driving ten minutes to a
parking lot with some trees leaning up against a fence. Here's us buying our tree and strapping it to the top of the car. Here's us going grocery shopping and then driving home. The end.

As I hung ornaments on the tree later that evening, I wondered about Alice's recollections of our own little Christmas traditions. (Can we call driving to a random parking lot to buy a Christmas tree from some dude named "Bob" an actual TRADITION?) Chip was lying on the couch keeping Alice entertained (the latest casualty of The Sick is, yes, my husband). I worried that the things we do or don't do around holidays will never compare to those magical moments of my childhood. Where I had fuzzy warm evenings with hot chocolate and donuts while dad got the tree in the stand and hung the lights, Alice has her mother demanding angrily WHERE ARE THE ORNAMENT HOOK-Y THINGS--- STOP TOUCHING THAT! No matter what I do, the magic diminishes with my every over-wrought attempt to make things perfect.

I want a snapshot of Bean sitting with Santa.

I get a blurry image of a screaming toddler reaching in terror for her father (while inexplicably clutching a white plastic spoon in her Toddler Death Grip - go figure).

I want an afternoon of festive merriment listening to Bing Crosby sing Christmas songs while we joyfully unpack Christmas stockings and hang them by the fireplace.

I get a nearly comatose husband wheezing on the couch as Bean runs amok around the living room (with the occasional DON'T TOUCH THAT and PUT THAT DOWN thrown in for good measure).

I want an afternoon's adventure procuring The Perfect Christmas Tree with my family.

I get a valiant attempt at Alive and Kicking from my husband as Bob, the teenage Christmas tree vendor, stands helplessly to the side of our car holding some twine (Do you want me to, um... like... help you? Or something?)

As I wound the only two surviving strings of lights on our tree (somehow these two strings of lights survived a summertime Garage Purge from yours truly), I thought about the impossibility of living up to a perfect childhood memory. My recollections of these events are two dimensional, at best. I saw everything through the lens of a small girl--- she saw lights and fairy dust while her parents toiled heavy behind the scenes. I don't doubt that in the fat succession of Perfect Christmas Memories are just as many failures, or so my parents would tell me if I asked. I remember laughter, music, spectacular food, twinkling tree lights reflecting off shiny toys. Now that I'm a parent, I don't doubt that behind the laughter and music and food and lights are bickering and irritation and complaints and blurry-eyed exhaustion.

I understand that this is what we parents do for our children. We present even the most mundane thing in the Christmas Wrap of Wonder. We laugh when we want to cry, we smile when we want to faint, we hang lights when we'd rather be hiding underneath the bed. And then we wake up for another day and know that this season of joy can be just that, if we let it. If we try to see it in the way it is meant.

Friday, December 11, 2009

the last plunge

Chip comes home tonight.

At the time of this writing, however, it should be: Chip comes home tomorrow night. Because for me, at this exact moment, as the words form on the page, it is Thursday night. And it is late.

It's been a long week. A very long week. I know that it's going to be over and I will be able to relax my concentration just enough to allow my arms to drop just so.

I am tired, is what I'm saying. Far too tired to find something witty or interesting or funny to say. But I can say that I survived these last few days, and I'll survive a few more hours.

This week, I also survived: A lot of my child's nose goo; four bedtimes all on my own; four naptimes all on my own; a badly timed late-night throw-up incident; a few too many tantrums;

Tell me: what are some things you survived this week?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

special math: what do you do when it's not quite nap time but someone needs a cuddle

There's this piece of furniture in my studio that has defied my understanding. Sure, it's used every so often when we have houseguests. And yes, I use it to lay out fabric and to sit on when I'm thinking. And boy oh boy the cats LOVE it. But until yesterday, I wondered about its everyday use. I mean, really--- what should we do with the bed in my studio?

It's simple.





On the docket: Go Dog Go, The Going to Bed Book, Gossie, and this one... not my choosing.

It's what ALL the toddlers are reading.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


The air of the house
is permeated with eucalyptus and Baby Vicks Vaporub. I am, again, doing the humidifier two-step before the afternoon nap and again before bedtime: empty, rinse, fill, measure salt and eucalyptus (EIGHT DOLLARS A BOTTLE - SOMEONE EXPLAIN THAT ONE TO ME, PLEASE). Bean's crib is raised up on one end by some familiar crib-raising books. I've pulled out her lighter pajamas - the ones that keep her warm without getting too warm in the humidifier-heavy room. There are boxes of Kleenex sitting on the usual available surfaces and my t-shirt is criss-crossed with little lines of Bean nose-rubs. The Sick crept up on us Monday night, complete with severe congestion and late-night barf (tell me: why does it ALWAYS happen late at night?).

When I was a little girl, I loved eyelet lace-- the kind that's a simple white scalloped edge with three little cut-outs on each scallop. The kind of lace that's lace without being lacy-lace, if you get my drift. I loved that my mom chose to tack it to my little dresses and things. It seemed precious without feeling over-done. Maybe I didn't think about it exactly that way at the time, but I'm getting close. I thought eyelet looked good.

I was thinking about eyelet lace tonight as I stood over Bean's crib, rubbing her forehead until she fell asleep. It's a blessing and a curse when Alice is sick, because she absolutely HATES to be alone. Every nap is a struggle, and bedtime even more so. I have my own brand of freaked out stress when it comes to feeling tied to lull Bean to sleep, but I do my best to let it all go and just help her to feel calm. Last night I rubbed her head and tried to ignore how quickly my right arm was falling asleep. I felt so tense and exhausted. I could see myself in that moment: wild-eyed with stress and worry over getting anything done, my psyche pulled so thin that it was coming apart in places. Which reminded me of eyelet lace.

Chip is really good in these moments to remind me what it's like, this feeling that Bean must be experiencing: her body exhausted and tense, every muscle hurting with an ache she doesn't understand. He tells me that it makes sense that she wants me so close, that she needs me to touch her and let her know that she isn't alone. Chip is gifted with an insight that I struggle to find. I think about the logistics of standing crib-side all night, sacrificing my sleep for hers, something I'm unable to do. I think about neck aches and how she never sleeps very well when she's in our bed. I think logic while Beans thinks comfort. And then I remember the eyelet, how I loved the shapes it could cast on my skin when I held it up to the sunlight. I remember my mother, back bent forward as she sewed. I remember her fingers tracing the dress patterns and measuring the lace. I remember sitting with her as she worked.


And it makes sense that Alice wants what she wants, needs me to touch her forehead as she sleeps.

The projects will have to wait.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

morbid and more bits

Let's just soldier on this Terrible Topic of Bad, shall we? I mean, we've already got Monday under our belt, so what's so awful about carrying it in to Tuesday. Right?

So then. Today let's talk about Bad Behavior. When I am stressed, I can get a little... let's use the word "crazy" and not quibble about the details. I've never been big about hiding my eccentricities here at The Creamery, so I urge you to do the same.

In case you need help:
- I felt so flip-flapping OVER THE TOP with the pressure on Saturday afternoon that I sat down on the kitchen floor and proceeded to clean out an entire kitchen cabinet. It was not on my To Do list.

- Objects over the weekend I allowed Bean to fiddle with because I was just So! Happy! that she was doing something other than hanging onto my leg: several fridge magnets, too many pens to count, a bouquet of star-shaped suckers, Chip's shoes, my shoes, Phoebe's tail (which--- it's not like she pulled it off the cat or anything, but she just sort of decided to follow Phoebe around aimlessly for nearly ten minutes, clinging to P's tail with the Toddler Kung Fu Grip of Death), a pile of Chip's business cards, my cell phone, a cube of butter (paper still wrapped around it).

- I cried at least six times between Friday to Sunday. None of the instances were triggered by meaningful things. More like the time Bean threw some chicken nuggets on the floor and when Chip fell asleep instead of giving me the arm rub that he had promised earlier.

Lay it on out there for me, my friends. Tell me something NUTS you've done in the face of pressure.

Monday, December 7, 2009

And then

Hello. Whimsy isn't here right now. She is busy dealing with a freakish and totally inopportune bout of Bean Stomach Flu.

Say it with me: AWESOME.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

a nice reviewerly picture of the whimsy household

Can we talk? I am personally not much of a fan of the I'm So Busy I Want to Die blog posts. Mostly because they're boring. And also a little counter intuitive (if you're really so busy, why the heck are you WRITING A BLOG ENTRY ABOUT IT when you could be, you know, actually getting stuff done?).

But. I'm calling this exception because.... B-U-S-Y. When I left my parents' to head home, I had this buzzing creepy-crawly feeling of impending doom about the coming few days. I got home and tried to do as much as I could, but being the sole parent-figure at the time, a lot of my bandwidth was spent doing the Daily Required Bean Tasks. So as soon as Chip came home on Thursday night, we sat down and stratagized about the days to come--- what needed to be done, when we were going to do it, and who was going to be doing each thing. Which lead us to this past weekend: three days of constant pushing. I have several work-related deadlines along with personal things that HAVE to get done not to mention the Etsy shop I'm frantically trying to get up and running.

It's enough to make a normal person lose their cool. And I'm not a normal person. I am a freak about scheduling and planning and making lists. On top of the deadlines, we had several commitments we also had to meet: our church Christmas breakfast on Saturday morning, a Christmas concert that Chip was performing in with a friend on Saturday night, church stuff to get done before Sunday morning. And have I mentioned that Chip is leaving bright and early on Monday morning for his company's week-long annual conference? Yes. And so.

Now this is your time to wonder why the heck Whimsy is bothering to write this all down, to post it. Why tell you that she's BUSY?

Well... I feel like this kind of insanity usually leads me into one of two places: either I feel energized and compelled to exceed my own expectations OR I find myself sputtering into a frenzied spiral of ineffectual dithering. So far, my needle is pointing to the very ugly ineffectual dithering. What I want to know from you guys is this: what do you do when you're faced with So! Much! To! Do! that you don't even know where to start? I'm in the market for some solid ideas, dudes. Whatcha got? (I wouldn't be opposed to Toddler Activity Ideas, either, because let's face it-- I'm on my own all this week and the To Do list isn't any shorter but that doesn't deter the Bean from asking me to pick her up and play with her every couple of minutes. OH! And one more thing! Our DVR is broken and we have lost every single life-saving episode of Sesame Street and it looks like we're not going to get a replacement DVR until late in the week. Essentially, what I'm telling you here, is that I've got all the ingredients -PLUS EXTRA FLAVORFUL BITS- for the Suckage Trifecta. KILL ME NOW.)

(Also, I wouldn't be opposed to some nice sympathy. I mean, if we're really being honest with each other--- I feel terrible and I desperately want to get in front of the train and past it instead of having it flatten me to some kind of awful bloody pulp.)

To review:
Whimsy BUSY.
Chip MIA.

That is all.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

on coming home

What makes it home? Is it the coats hanging in the closet or the cat dishes waiting to be filled? Is it the way the sofa smells like leather and your husband's shampoo or the pile of your daughter's toys sitting in the living room?

What makes a home, a home? Is it the tears you've poured into the pillows or the drips of apple pie on the oven floor? Is it the echo of laughter from the last time you tried to sing Happy Birthday a couple of octaves too high or the sunlight falling through the window at 4 o'clock?

What makes home so very homey? Is it lamplight and firelight and candlelight all at once? Is it the leaves collecting against the backyard fence? Is it maple syrup and waffles and that horrible chili that your husband insisted on making two weeks ago? Is it an overstuffed refrigerator or an empty recycling bin? Is it the grocery list hanging from the doorknob so you won't forget it (even though you will, you always do)?

Home. What is it? Is it a building? A feeling? A collection of memories?

Is home a place? An ideal? A myth?

Being home. I know it, when I'm there. It's you. It's me. It's us inside these walls that we've made our own.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

tis the... season?

I can't decide if it's something in the air, the water, or the season, but there are some weird things afoot. I got back yesterday late afternoon. I have some posts planned. REAL posts. But as I said, there are some strange things that are troubling me.


- Can anyone explain to me how (OR WHY) the makers of this gem think that Everything Old is New Again? Or why it's supposed to make such a stellar Christmas gift? (I had one once. The ORIGINAL. I think I grew it for a while until it seemed gross and so I scraped off the plant-y bits and just had the little clay sheep-like animal sitting on my kitchen counter for months and months. I considered gluing beads or jewels on it, but I didn't. Eventually Phoebe knocked it off the counter and so it met its sad bitter end.) Incidentally, they now have a Chia Obama head. Really.

- Something ELSE that is attempting to make a holiday come back. Huh.


Monday, November 30, 2009

a few of the details

I blame my mother. No really, I do. I was perfectly content to stay at the house and eat leftover turkey all the livelong day, but Thursday morning she started in on me with the after-Thanksgiving Day sales. First it was, "Hey, look at this ad... can you BELIEVE this price?" Then it was, "Wow - you really can't pass THIS up, can you?" Then it was, "Let's just make a list..." And finally it was, "So what time are we waking up in the morning?" SHE'S CRAFTY.

So it was that I found myself sitting hunched over and blurry-eyed in my FREEZING car on Friday morning (24 degrees, y'all). Mom and I took two separate cars to further our whole shopping Plan of Attack. Which, I have to say, was totally brilliant. Mom waiting in line at one store (4AM, dudes) while I ran to another store THAT WAS ALREADY OPEN, to get Bean a $15 down-filled parka. Seriously, fifteen bucks. That was when I realized I'd left my wallet back at the house (yes, not smart) and had to have them hold the parka so I could run back to the house, pick up the wallet, then meet my mom at store #1 for the mad-dash first run through the doors. I grabbed the shopping cart, mom ran toward the back of the store to gather certain pre-determined deals, then I made a sweep through the aisles to grab a couple of other pre-determined deals and meet mom at the back, for her to then dump everything into the cart. Easy, right?

Um. I RAN INTO three different people with the cart. I nearly amputated one lady's foot. NOT ON PURPOSE. And then! With the crazy grabbing! And the people SPRINTING through the aisles! And have I mentioned the grabbing? We wouldn't have made it without the careful triangulating power of Ye Mighty Cell Phones. Dudes, I kept calling her, all, "MOM! WHERE ARE YOU? I'M SURROUNDED BY CRAZY WOMEN WHO ARE GRABBING WAFFLE IRONS FOR $5!" I have no pictures except for this horrid blurry thing that I tried to get while standing behind a woman who was filling her cart with blankets. Oh, that one and also a shot I did of my car's dashboard temperature gauge (say it with me: TWENTY-FOUR DEGREES).

But you know what? It was loads and loads of fun. If this is the only year I ever do it, I'm so glad I did. Because this is the kind of weird memory that you just can't fake, me and mom getting up at O Dark Crazy Thirty and calling each other on our cell phones talking about waiting in ridiculously long lines and watching people nearly kill each other with shopping carts. All before 9am. So yes, it was fun.

As is this trip. Chip got here on Wednesday afternoon, and we've been filling our bellies with yummy mom-made food and we even got out of the house to see a movie, just Chip and me (Fantastic Mr. Fox).

Yesterday dad made his famous grilled cheese sandwiches. I even ate one (which my family knows is a MIRACLE since I have normally expressed Extreme Prejudice in regard to the grilled cheese sandwich --yes, even dad's--).

Chip heads back in the car this morning--- he'll be working his way back home, while Bean and I are here for another day, flying home on Tuesday. How's that for complicated?

And you. How was your weekend?

Friday, November 27, 2009

mission accomplished

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two words

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how to drive your 67-year-old mother to an early grave

Alternately titled, An Interesting Way to Spend a Holiday Friday

As I write this I am waiting outside Shopko with my mom. I am coming to you LIVE from the Friday shopping mess that is the day after Thanksgiving. We are huddled outside in the COLD Utah 4:30 morning. Because we are crazy. And I want to buy a $30 food processor for a mere $5. That's right, FIVE DOLLARS. If you play your cards right I will post pictures of the madness inside the store.

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

in no particular order

I am thankful for:

Raindrops and messy kisses and soft bedsheets and a warm house and turkey and mom and dad and Chip and Alice and God and good friends that offer forgiveness before I even ask and technology and my crackberry and a healthy body and eyes that can see and Buddy and Matt and Ana and Emilie and church and Chip's family and people I love and our country and our constitution and people who have come before me and jokes and color and paint and beautiful Seattle and amazing grandparents and furry cat paws under the bathroom door and fuzzy blankets and presents and surprises in the mail and books and Kate and Amanda just down the street and the fact that Alice calls out to me MAMA! and holding a sleeping child and these fingers to type and M! and Eleanor Q and dearest Samwise and her new baby girl (newest of CREAM: THE NEXT GENERATION) and speaking of that: CREAM!, and the incomparable Wandering Nana and my fiery sister Kimmie and the lovable Little Brother Steve and Winston and KAY who has known me since high school and still wants to be my friend and Swistle and funny blogs and my extended birth family and Chelle and big brother Curtis and turkey stuffing and apple pie and food glorious food and art and music and beauty and my funny fantastic laptop and Shelly Huh and swing sets and Sesame Street and my ipod and The Last Homely House and skin and clean drinking water and working with the children at church and Spadoman who calls me his whimsical friend and Spadoman's True Italian Gravy recipe (will be posted here soon) and writing and words and poetry and Stephen Dunn and so very many good books and so very many good writers and school and learning and dedicated teachers and Clueless But Hopeful Mama who still comments at The Creamery even though I STILL haven't sent her package and Angela who teaches me so much and Alicia who writes me emails about stuff and my first Jenny and Nutmeg who hasn't written anything since August (miss her) and feet that work and a garden in the spring and planting tulip bulbs and memory and photos and documentaries and glasses so that I can see and thinking and prayer and and lovely brothers- and sisters-in-law and nieces and nephews and apple pie and CJane and the internet and so many talented bloggers and Stacie and Chip playing his guitar and songs he's written just for me and fabric and sewing and buttons and clean clothes and design and yarn and knitting and doing doing doing STUFF and communicating with my child and have I mentioned Chip and Chip's arm rubs and love from Bean and bathtime and evening prayers and Parking at Home and lotion and trees and wind and dirt and purrrrdles and taking chances and The Rainbow Connection and time alone and running and WORDS and time and work and Jefe and Serenity Now (also her lovely emails) and The Laws of Cream and vaccines and sleep and mobile phones and shoes I like and Heidi W and so many people who are nice to me and Halloween and Christmas and Easter and any other holiday except Valentine's Day because that one bugs me and barbequed blue cheese bacon burgers and funny people and feeling inspired and play and The Triumverate and challenges and airplanes and cookies and weird commercials and Mayfly blog because it is so beautiful and walking and not bothering to link to anything and Amy Nate's mom and Amanda M and Pickles & Dimes and you and you and you and you and YOU, most especially YOU.

What's on your thankful list?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

now we are six

We don't know how it began exactly, except for me and M sitting on some stairs at our church, talking. He walked by and we called out to him, thinking that it would be fun to talk to the new guy Chip. He seemed interesting. He seemed funny. He was also very cute.

We talked about Shakespeare and Tolkien. We also talked about going to a movie.

M couldn't go, as she was soon to be driving across the country to attend graduate school.

He showed up 30 minutes late to our first date. He also brought his roommate in case he couldn't carry a conversation with me.

It turned out that his roommate was silent the entire night.

Because we didn't stop talking, just the two of us.

We were married just three months later.

And that day was six wonderful years ago.

Happy anniversary, Love. Thank you for being the wonderful person that you are.

In case you love these photos as much as I do, look up my wonderful friend Christina, our wedding photographer. Every image--- so lovely. She's a true artist.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What not to do

Do not forget your laptop's power cord at home.
Do not attempt to write a post on a laptop that has the battery life of a fruit fly.

Am eagerly awaiting chip's arrival tomorrow afternoon. He has a power cord.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Monday, November 23, 2009


A bit late. On way to airport for solo trip with bean to see my folks. Am the picture of serenity and calm even though we are very much running behind Whimsy Time.
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Friday, November 20, 2009

several true stories

It turns out I'm a decent liar.

Number 1.
Other things I've found in Bean's crib: socks, books, sippy cups, Chip's business card case,
and her stuffed friend Hurp (met with LOUD DISPROVAL when she discovered she can put him in the crib, but can't get him out). True story.

Number 2.
My husband will argue with anyone who would like to take him to task that a full, complete, well-balanced meal is contained in a large plate of nachos. For dairy, you've got the cheese and the sour cream. For fruits and vegetables, you've got the salsa. For protein you've got whatever beans or chicken you put into the nachos. And for whole grains, you've got Mission tortilla chips (they also make the tortilla chips for Costco - which are the ones we buy). These tortilla chips are made with four simple ingredients that are easily pronounceable in a factory that doesn't use soy or peanuts. These tortilla chips are staples in our house. And yes, Bean eats them from time t
o time. And yes, she recently used them to demonstrate to me that she knows Chip's name. Hee!

Number 3.
I don't know if I even want to talk about this one, because it's true: Bean bit me. It happened so fast that I barely registered it except for the shrieking pain in my LEG where she bit me. THROUGH MY JEANS. Blah blah blah, immediate time out and lots of tears (me and her). Hasn't happened since. Ugh.

Number 4.
Let me just answer this one by telling you this charming story. Coming back from San Francisco in August, we stopped in a very small California town to take bathroom breaks and get so
mething to eat (only available eatery, the ever popular McDonald's). Before we went in, we figured we'd give Bean some time for leg stretching. The only available space for the leg stretching activity? The 3 foot by 6 foot rectangle of sidewalk leading up and into the McD's. She toddled around the rectangle for a couple of minutes but then realized that the large and spacious PARKING LOT was beckoning her. So, as she's standing at the door of the McDonald's, our dear Bean gets down on her hands and knees and then does this whole bum-first hopeful back up ON HER BELLY on the sidewalk, wistfully aiming for the curb and generally horrifying the parents because remember, WE ARE NOT A FAN OF THE GERMS. So, um? Even though that was three months ago? She's still going down the stairs, ANY stairs, on her belly, bum first. Though I do have to say, as long as I'm around she'll walk down stairs holding my hand. And I'm perfectly okay with that.

Number 5.
Now that you know this is a true story (as is Number 6), I'll just show you this picture from yesterday as evidence. Behold my boot:

And my boot's contents:

(For the short sighted, that would be a paci and several pretzel sticks with bits missing and some raisins and a few cheerios)

Number 6.
You guys, I'm not kidding about this, and honestly it scares me, in a who-is-this-child-and-what-else-is-she-storing-in-her-freakishly-gigantic-brain kind of way. I got a weird scared and excited CHILL when we first noticed what she was doing. I mean, what 20-month-old kid can identify numbers on sight? Is this normal? Please tell me that it's normal and I'll stop feeling like she's going to grow a second head or start playing piano concertos on her Playskool 4-note keyboard. So yes, if we line up a whole bunch of her alphabet blocks, some with numbers showing on the sides, she'll correctly identify the numbers and what they're called. We haven't taught her any of this, we don't even know where she got it from. I mean, she can count to ten, but it's not like I'm using flashcards or anything. She does have some counting books, and maybe she's just noticed the numbers on the pages? But again, it's not like I pointed them out or anything. I will now be posting the following on my bathroom mirror so I will NEVER FORGET: The Bean sees and hears EVERYTHING. You have been warned.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

lie detector

I'm thinking we should play a game today, Five Truths and One Lie. You tell me which ONE of these six things are NOT true. And really, only one of these stories is a lie. All the rest are absolutely 100% true. Go!

Number 1.
Bean has taken to hiding things in her crib. We think she's doing it to give herself little treats when she's hanging out there later in the evening. The other day when I went to get her after her nap, I found a Noah's Ark finger puppet (Noah, actually - though she also has a giraffe and a monkey and an elephant). Chip had been the one to put her in the crib for her nap in the first place, so of course I asked him about it later: Dude, why did you put Bean in the crib with the Noah finger puppet? And Chip was all, Um, I didn't. She must've thrown Noah in there earlier in the day, for safekeeping. This is not the first time. We've found Sheepie, her stuffed sheep; Germane, her stuffed giraffe; Chip's cell phone; and a stack of Chip's business cards. For safekeeping.

Number 2.
I was feeding Bean recently and she kept picking up individual pieces of food and saying Daddy! Daddy! Piece after piece, picked up in her fingers as she was saying Chip's name. It was really weird. So I told her, "No baby, those aren't daddy. Those are chips." !!!!! To which I then, of course, shouted to Chip "DUDE! ALICE KNOWS YOUR NAME!"

Number 3.
As we were sitting on the floor yesterday playing with blocks, Bean bent down and bit me on the leg. Hard. Hard enough to leave a bruise.

Number 4.
Despite our sincere hope that Bean would be crawling backwards down the stairs when she's a senior in high school, she has now mastered the art of WALKING up and down the stairs, acting like some kind of BI-PED or something. No hands, people. NO HANDS.

Number 5.
In addition to her toy-stashing habits, she is also stashing FOOD and COMFORT OBJECTS. And she's doing it knowingly and remembering WHERE she put stuff later. To wit: a small red bucket with a smattering of cheerios was stuffed into a corner of our bedroom without my knowledge until Bean went to retrieve it yesterday morning. I've also discovered a Red Robin cup of pretzels underneath the toy wagon in her bedroom, a plastic purple cup with several honey bunnies behind one of Chip's guitar cases, and the PACI's. Oh the paci's. Stuffed into the little seat hidey hole of her little singing bus car push/pull thing, inside a bag in the toy basket in the family room, and in the towel drawer of the kitchen (actually, that's a very popular hiding spot for paci's AND food (currently a handful of cheerios) AND random small toys. Clearly, saving things for later.

Number 6.
We thought Bean was just helping to count the alphabet blocks when Chip was playing with her the other day. She kept reaching into the bag to hand him more blocks and saying random numbers (Nine! Two! Five!). And then Chip looked a little closer and realized that she might be actually identifying numbers printed on the sides of the blocks. The he figured that couldn't be possible, so he tried to test her. "Hey Bean," he said, pointing to the tall tower of blocks in front of him, "Where's the nine?" AND SHE POINTED TO IT, SAYING "NINE." Then, "Where's the five?" AND SHE POINTED TO IT, "FIVE." Again with seven and three and eight. Dude.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

bean pod

I took some pictures of Bean's room a couple of weeks ago - I finished the bedding and the crib bumper and the pillows and the curtains only 20 months after her birth. Not bad timing, I say.

For your viewing:

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

yesterday's post: redux

You are officially awarded the Most Dedicated Creamery Reader Award for actually reading a post with this title. I mean, really, that's some FAITH.

Which hopefully I will reward (a little?) with actual New Content, even though this is clearly a REDUX. Why the redux? Because there are things we need to talk about! And yesterday's post is a good
stepping off point.

Point the first: Bean's skirt.

You are the sweetest lot, really you are. Because when I finished that particular creation I walked out of my studio and announced to Chip I THINK I'VE FINALLY GONE TOO FAR. With the blue corduroy! And the many! different! colored! flowers! And the orange (!) pom poms!!! But it sort of all works... I think. So yes, I did make it my very own self. I've become a little bit obsessed with pom poms lately. If I could have my way, I would be sewing pom poms onto everything Bean wears. So far I've controlled my urges to just jeans and skirts. We'll see how long this restraint lasts.

Point the second: Etsy shop.
Related to Point the First. I'm going to truly jump into the Land of Crazy and open
my own Esty shop. I think it's time, even though I don't think I have the time. But I love doing these little creations far too much to keep them to myself any longer. Stay tuned... I'll link here when it's all up and running and ready to go.

Point the third: My hair.
Swistle asked how long my hair has gotten. Behold the insanity...

But not for much longer (I'm hilarious). I will be getting it snipped off by the end of the week - though we're not talking drastic, the ends they are mighty split and I have a personal rule (WHIMSY ONLY RULE, Y'ALL) that the Whimsy of a Certain Age shall not have hair longer than a Certain Length. My hairs have clearly entered into No Man's Land and will be dealt with forthwith. (Which, also, I'm working on a post for some more additional Whimsy Rules a la the Food Rules because that was fun, and also Bzzzzgrrrrl asked.)

Point the fourth: My child.

Let's talk about Early Onset of Twoness, shall we? Because, um, DUDE. This child is all MINE MINE MINE MINE MIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINE about everything (including some Very Weird Stuff like underclothing that CLEARLY doesn't belong to her). And also? With the strange mood swings? And the running off into OTHER COUNTRIES when she is set free in any open air situation? It's just madness. I would love some suggestions and/or some commiseration. And I'm just going to say, to any of my friends who are pregnant or are thinking of gestating another child with a two-year-old (or almost) in their midst? YOU HAVE MY SYMPATHIES. Because I don't know how I'd manage a Bean-as-she-is-right-now and a Bun (in oven) at the same time.

Point the fifth: My child, viewed from another angle.

But what I can't fathom even more is doing any of this without knowing Bean-As-She-Is-Right-Now. She is indescribable in her zest, her passion, her excitement about Everything. She laughs and whispers and shouts. She kisses and hugs and signs I Love You. She is mercurial--- but in that firecracker's burst of a second when she LOVES someone or something --if you're the object of her affection-- you will glow for days. She makes me feel like a rock star, a superstar, The Absolute End of the Earth of Coolness.

I don't think I've ever felt so popular in my life.

Monday, November 16, 2009

how to become a different bean in eight easy steps

A simple instruction guide for toddlers who desire to get a head start on the magical age known as TWO (an age that the adults seem to actually FEAR).

Step 1: Allow your parents to take you to a large Seattle landmark in order for your mother to meet a very old friend.

Step 2: Wait for your parents to ask you to give mom's old friend a hug. Do everything BUT what they ask you to do.

Step 3: Lull your parents into thinking they are going to get a picture with you. Once seated, insist on standing up. Once standing, insist that neither one of them TOUCH you, even if you are teetering precariously on the edge of a wall.

Step 4: Make the friend laugh uncontrollably by saying MEE-O MEE-O MEE-O MEE-O on maniacal repeat.

Step 5: As your parents try to have a leisurely stroll through Seattle Center, sprint to the giant concrete spheres as you shout BALL! BALL! BALL! BALL! BALLBALLBALLBALL! ...and then get very angry when the BALL! does not roll or move. Do your best to ensure you and your mother get run over by several tourists.

Step 6: Take off another 100 feet and shout UPPITY until your dad places you on a large planter. Run forward and back across the planter, then do your best impression of America's Next Top Toddler Model.

Step 7: Allow your parents to think you are starting to get tired by sitting in the middle of the sidewalk. For fun.

Step 8: Allow yourself to finally be caught and kissed by the visiting friend. Know that you've done a good deed. Not everyone gets to kiss a Bean this fabulous.