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May 2008

Diana does Irish

My friend Diana is about 2/3 of the way through with a trip to Ireland. I admire her pluck, as she's travelling alone - let me tell you, she is a SuperFox. She is blogging about it, with photos (with her handy dandy new Nikon - I wish Nikon knew how many cameras I've sold for them. Then maybe they'd be sweet and send me a nice 85mm f/1.4 for my birthday, which is on Thanksgiving Day this year, if anyone is wondering.). She's posting as often as she can find WiFi around the Emerald Isle, which hasn't always been easy. I've been to Ireland once, when I was 16, and I can vouch that it is impossibly green - beautifully, stunningly, impossibly green. The whole island is like a giant batch of fresh, green pesto. With heather. Anyway, Diana's having a ton more fun than I had there, so if you're interested - check it out and tell her I said hi!

Today, I am happy

Moody and green 001

This afternoon we went to the park. Yeah, we go there a lot. R played with V and I got to roam around and take some pictures. I love these green leaves. So lush, so bright green.

I got my old Pentax K1000 out a while ago. My idea was to let V play with it so that she would leave my then brand new Nikon alone. It did the trick, most of the time. Then I started seeing a few scans of photos taken with the K1000 on flickr and I thought, hmmmm...maybe I'd like to play along.

So I had R pick up a battery for the camera for me today. I used to take pictures with this camera all the time in the 90s (mainly of my cats, the only willing subjects I had at the time). I used to have tons of film that I hadn't had developed - not sure where those went, though. The reason I stopped taking pictures? Because the battery died and I never seemed to remember to get a new one. Then I decided I couldn't really afford to get all that film developed anyway. And one thing led to another and I just stopped taking pictures.

So this morning when I got the camera out to look at it, I realized that it still had film in it. More than half the exposures had been taken. So I took a few and then when we went to the park, I took the rest, rewound the film and now it's in the pocket of the diaper bag. Now I just have to figure out where to get it developed. And I can't wait to get the pictures back. There's some giant growth or something in the camera, which will be on all the photos I took today, but I don't care. Maybe I'll figure out how to clean it and then buy a the occasional roll of film.

It was amazing how easy it was to take pictures with that camera. I have really learned a lot since I got my digital SLR. The K1000 is super simple compared to the Nikon. But playing with the K1000 for 15 minutes this afternoon actually increased my knowledge of how to use the digital. I walked around the trail at the park saying to myself, higher number (shutter speed) lets in less light, need more light? lower number. Sometimes, when it comes to photography, I feel so smart - and sometimes I feel like a complete dolt. Today, I felt a little of both, but I had fun and feel refreshed.

Moody and green 002

Today there was a post on the Photojojo blog that is still swimming around in my head. Jamie Livingston took a Polaroid photo every day for 18 years. He passed away in 1997, but two of his friends gathered together 6,697 of these photos into an exhibition. Can you feel the love? I'm feeling it. There is also a website where you can see all these photos. I plan to look at all of them eventually.

If you want to peruse them yourself, you might want to bookmark the site and wait a few days. They're getting tons of traffic right now and the site has been down.

Dreaming of bunnies

So this morning when we woke up, I asked V if she had a good sleep. I usually ask her this and she usually looks at me like whatever. But this morning, she said yes.

Then I asked her if she had any dreams last night. She said, yes.

I asked her what her dream was about and she said, animals.

Then I asked her what kind of animals and she said, bunnies.

I love it that she's dreaming about bunnies.

Making Playdoh cookies

V and I haven't baked anything in a while, so I thought we'd do something extra fun today. I saw this at The Crafty Crow not too long ago and have been wanting to make them ever since.

Playdoh cookie 002

V helped where she could and ate what she could grab. I'd have liked to use different colors, but I'm more into using what I've got right now rather than filling our already overcrowded kitchen with more stuff. But I will say that the photo doesn't do the cookie justice. R will be lucky if there's any left when he gets home.

Just because I feel like it

I know it isn't Father's Day or any special occasion, but I want to brag on my husband just because I feel like it.

I can see him right now - he's sitting in the "playroom/office," working. Today is his office day and he's been working hard all day long. He's got his headphones on and he's humming along to some song I probably hate. He's a lot more into music than I am. R believes in marriage and family and in being present in his life.

He helps with the housework, fills my car with gas, changes diapers, cleans the litter box, and watches V so I can take pictures whenever we go somewhere. He's always there to tell me it's ok. He encourages me. He listens to me when I talk. He loves to play with V and they have invented several games that I don't even know the rules to - games with names like "High Up," "Out of Control Flying," and "Wa-Pow." It's so much fun to watch them play.

He is a hard worker, conscientious. He helps people when they need it - from people he works with to perfect strangers. He works to improve himself. And even when things don't go his way, he eventually manages to find the silver lining. He's a lot more interested in politics than I am. He tells me I'm a good cook and a good mom. When we talk about our dreams, he always tells me we're going to get there.

He's a good man and I love him. I pray that my daughter is lucky enough to find a partner in life who will be as wonderful to her as her dad is to me. I am blessed way beyond these small words to have him.

Thinking of Grandmama

in dc

I'm thinking of my grandmother today. Why? I think because somewhere I saw a recipe for buttermilk pie and anything having to do with buttermilk reminds me of her. The smell of it transports me back to her kitchen immediately. I've never made a buttermilk pie before, but now you can bet I'm going to.

How I wish I knew more. How I wish I'd pried more stories out of her - pried any stories, really. She didn't talk much about the past and when she did, there weren't a lot of details.

My understanding of things is that her father was an alcoholic and that he and her mother divorced. And that her mother married another alcoholic. And so my grandmother left home at around age 16. I'd be afraid to ask how that happened.

She left school after sixth grade to work in order to help the family. I don't know what kind of job she had, but she ended up working at a mill. The story I remember her telling me of meeting my grandfather was that she had been out to the movies with some girlfriends and she met him in the street. I think they loved each other; it was hard for me to tell - until after my grandmother had passed away and then every time I saw my granddaddy he told me how long it had been since we'd lost her.

I think she had a lot of secrets. I know she knew a lot of sadness. She was a woman who was stuck in her life, who resigned herself to her lot. I think her biggest regret was her lack of education. She read a lot, though they were mainly bad romance novels. Maybe she just wanted to escape.

She sewed and cooked and cleaned her house. I remember her antique sewing machine that she actually used. Sometimes she'd let me push the pedal, telling me when to stop and start. I loved her pinking sheers too and I used to drive her crazy tangling her bobbins and spools of thread.

My grandmother is the one who always told me that you weren't finished washing dishes until you had wiped the counters and the table. Her house was never a mess. I should be so good at the housekeeping! She always kept a rag hanging and a damp paper towel (which she used again and again) on the countertop, ready to wipe down a mess.

My grandfather did the gardening, but my grandmother considered the flower bushes hers. She loved the camelias and the old fashioned roses and the gardenias - even though it was my grandfather who took care of them. She also worked hard in the kitchen, canning lots of the vegetables from the garden. Sometimes I wonder what she would think of all these blogs I like to read, like SouleMama, who appears to do things a lot like my grandmama would've.

Two of my favorite memories: Grandmama sitting on the sofa and me lying with my head in her lap. She'd brush my hair or just run her hand over my head. And then the time during and after my parents' divorce, when we lived with my grandparents for a long, long while. I slept in her bed with her and she'd let me drape my leg over her hip and sleep right up close to her. I really needed that feeling of security at that point in my life. Once I asked her if our sleeping arrangement bothered her and she said no, that we should keep sleeping like that. I can't thank her enough for that.


R is in Nashville this week. When he asked me to post a lot this week while he's gone, I'm not sure if this is what he had in mind. Ha ha.

I'm not doing Flylady exactly. But I'm going to gather info from the site and do it my own way. Maybe once we move I'll do it more like she suggests. Anyway, I'm also doing it backwards. She wants you to have everything basically clean before you start the decluttering process. Um...I didn't do it like that. I was too eager to do the set-the-timer-for-15-minutes-and-see-how-much-I-can-accomplish thing.

I've identified many, many hotspots in this place. The bookshelf, changing table, my desk, the top of the dresser - anything with a flat surface. The entire kitchen is a hotspot (mainly because it's TINY and not everything has a place to go - not even the food. That's what you get for moving into a place sight-unseen.). My goal here is not to get this place picture-perfect. Since we plan on moving soon, it doesn't seem worth the time/energy to me. My goal is to get it decluttered enough so that when I do get a moment to myself, I can actually think in here, and so that we don't feel like we need to take an entire weekend day to clean it. And then to keep it at that level of cleanliness (ay, there's the rub).

A few weeks ago, I found this table/desk for sale on Craigslist. It had been available for a while, so I offered the guy half price if he hadn't sold it yet, and he hadn't, so I got a pretty decent desk for not a lot of money. Of course it has a giant scratch down the middle of it, but who can see it anyway with all this junk on it?

messy desk 001

messy desk 002

So I set my timer for 15 minutes and spent 10 of it clearing off just one part and putting it on the dining table. Then I spent the last five minutes (and a few more after that) putting that stuff away or throwing it out. There was nothing to donate there, that's for sure. Mainly what there was to put away were papers we need to keep, toys/V's games, and a few other odds and ends. And I dusted (while V dusted her play kitchen). Here's how it looks now. I never know what to do with wires. Other people seem to know, but I never do. They can sit on the desk, or they can hang down to the floor. Neither option is particularly appealing to me.

half clean 002

The rest of the desk still looks the same, though I will probably put away the big stack of V's books that are sitting on the corner. These books came to us all the way from Oregon and they're fabulous (thanks Rachel!)! They just haven't made their way to bookshelf yet, because we've been reading them all over and over again. V loves her books!

So, what was V doing while I was doing all this? Surely not making another mess ...

half clean 003

half clean 006

Now there is cat food all over the floor in the playroom/office, so we'll be vacuuming later. Sigh. Anyway, I'm thinking it's going to take me three days to completely declutter this desk at 15 minutes a pop. Frightening, isn't it? Then I'll start on something else, maybe the bookshelf. In the meantime, I'm going to shine my sink later today (naptime, I think) and try to keep the toys in their rightful places, instead of all over the living room floor.

But right now I say it's time for watercolors with my girl!

Happy day

Today we went to the park. It was so lovely. I'm seriously going to miss this park when we move - it's perfect.

R threw a really big rock into the water. V thought that was hilarious. She also thinks the words "gargle" and "pickle" are really funny too.

v 054

My husband is the best kite flyer in the entire world.

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V wanted to ride in the back seat so I could ride in the front.

v 130

She loves that slide.

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On the beach. Those bunny barrettes are her favorites. She loves bunnies.

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My sweet girl. I love her more than I can say.

Baby steps

This morning, I made V miss her favorite show (Bunnytown) so that I could watch Dooce on the Today show. It was horrid. The way Kathy Lee and that other chick talk and laugh over each other was almost more than my already frazzled nervous system could bear. If I wanted to watch women talking over each other hysterically, I'd watch The View. So they flew Heather and her husband out to NYC for THAT? But I was just happy to watch it. I have been sick for a couple of days and yesterday I barely left the bed and when I got up today, I had 198 blog entries on my Bloglines and was thrilled that I hadn't missed something. I was also down 2 pounds from all the soup and Jello, so I celebrated that with a lunch of scrambled eggs and cheese and 2 slices of cheese toast. My throat still hurts, my nose is stopped and the coughing is just beginning, but at least my appetite's coming back.

I am slowly coming to the realization that if someone's going to keep this joint clean and presentable, it's probably going to have to be me. I seem to be ill-prepared to do the job. I remember before we had V, we talked about how wonderful it would be - R would work, of course, and I would stay home and I'd keep the house clean and play with the baby. Oh the fun! I told another mom at the park the other day that having V has really knocked me on my heiny. She looked at me like I was crazy. Of course she has three kids so she's probably thinking that I have no idea what I'm talking about. And she's probably right.

But it's true. I'm a low energy person. My motto is why go outside when you can stay inside with the air conditioner on? I've never kept a really tidy room/car/house/desk. And I hate it. Right before V's nap, R popped in and gave me some sushi. His boss is in town and they went to lunch and he brought me their leftover sushi. But his boss stayed in the car because we have CHAOS. I keep telling myself that it'll be different with every move and yet it's not. So, while I'm not planning to join the FlyLady mailing list (all those emails freak me out), I'm going to start checking the site every day and working on it. Baby steps!! My excuse is that when V is napping, I'm working (except right this minute, since I'm blogging, but I'll be working, um ... soon), which makes it hard to find the time to clean up. And I think, especially after yesterday (he took the day off from work because I was sick), R would agree with me that hanging out with V is a full-time job. But I can set the timer and do 15 minutes of decluttering. I can do a load of laundry a day. Right?

What I can't do is clean that bathroom toilet. It is out of control. So I'm hoping that R will read this and clean it for me because I'm afraid that in my weakened condition, I could take a nasty spill down the stairs and subject myself to further school absences.


I love it! She is such a big girl. She was climbing up the ladders almost all by herself (she needed help at the top) and sliding. After she slides down, I always reach out my hand and she'll touch it to get a shock. We call that shocky shocky.

v Concord 133


When I became a mother in 2005, I felt that I could go into most any store and, as long as I bought some sort of brand name that I'd heard of before, whatever I bought for my baby would be safe for her. Safe for her to play with, wear, chew on, drink from. Boy, was I naive.

These days, I get an email almost every day from the US Consumer Product Safety Division, giving me a list of recalls for children's products. I haven't run any numbers or anything, but it appears to me that the majority of recent recalls are due to lead paint being used in products from China painted onto our kid's toys and other products. So far, only one of V's toys has been recalled (that I know of). I had her tested for lead at her second birthday check-up just to be sure. The whole thing freaked me out and now I try to avoid buying toys made in China, though it's not always possible. I will say that V eats from the same dishes that we do - I have not bought her any of the cute ones I have seen at Target lately because they were made in China. I just can't bring myself to do it - even when it's in the shape of a butterfly or has Pooh Bear on it (both of which V would adore).

Now I am wondering when laws will be passed that will keep BPA out of our plastics. I first became aware of BPA from reading the blog Z Recommends. (If you have kids and you don't read that blog, well, you should.) For months and months now, they have done a ton of research on BPA, the companies that use it in their products, and which products don't have it. You can also text message them when you're at the store to help you choose a BPA-free product. I will admit that I have a severe case of sleep deprivation that's been going on for about 2.5 years now and when I see all the stuff they've written ... well, let's say that I really appreciate their hard work, but my brain is not capable of comprehending it all right now. I need things to be extremely easy or I just can't deal with it.

What this means is that I have done nothing about the cups V is drinking out of. I know that I'm going to have to buy all new bottles when we have another baby and I thank God that V herself was such an avid nurser that she hardly drank out of the bottles we do have. But she has the same cups she's had since she was 12 months old and I have become sufficiently overwhelmed by all the BPA information out there that I have had my fingers crossed that because the sippies she has are not clear plastic, they don't have BPA in them. And I feel terrible for it.

So you would think that Amazon starting their own "BPA-free baby" shop would make things easy for me. For one thing - and I do hope that someone from Amazon reads this - after the grocery store, I SHOP AT AMAZON MORE OFTEN THAN ANY PLACE ELSE. Any time I think of something I need to buy, I check prices online and I always check Amazon too because I know that I can often find it cheaper there than anywhere else. I love Amazon. But today Z Recs is reporting that they have a "an accuracy level of less than 75% for plastic products" that they are promoting in their BPA-free baby store.

Amazon needs to recognize their mistake, apologize for it, and correct it ASAP. Even still, I'm sufficently spooked not to trust them on this. I will still shop at Amazon because I'm sure they didn't make these mistakes on purpose, but I will go through the Z Recs Amazon store because I trust that they've been thorough in their recommendations. In fact, I'm going there right now to start replacing some sippies ...