Wednesday, November 30, 2011


The first presents were tucked under the tree today. Gifts from Enzo to his sisters. I've become a full fledged Design Mom disciple when it comes to Christmas gifts. The other day as I was about to tell The Mr. about another of her gift giving practices I meant to institute I felt the need to preface my statement with "No, I wouldn't jump off a bridge if Design Mom told me to, but..." So I'm helping the kids make gifts for each other Design Mom style. Enzo made leg warmers for his sisters. He picked out a pair of adult sized socks for each one then he chopped off the feet and sat in my lap while I hemmed the remaining tubes. I just folded the raw edge under and zigzagged around. I've serged them before hemming in the past but that's really not necessary. Enz was also kind enough to lend his manly little legs to the effort of photographing our morning's endeavor to share with all of you.
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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Sort it out

Friends, I have sorted until I can sort no more. Yesterday we did Enzo and Moo's toys, this morning I did a grand reorganization of the off-size/off-season kids clothes and this afternoon Ziz and I mounted an attack on her unruly toy collection. I told her she had to give one thing away for every thing she kept and she did awesome. There were a few silent tears here and there but she worked through it. After she heard me on the phone telling her auntie how she'd tried to get away with putting a single accessory in the give away pile to balance out a whole play-set in the keepers this went down. Zizza- "I put two things in the giveaway pile" Me- "Cool what were they?" Zizza- "A barbie ballet shoe. The other was was missing anyway so..." Me- "So what? That makes it count as two things? And here I thought that meant it was garbage." Zizza- (giggles) Me- "Nice try" Most of the toys are pared down pretty well with the exception of the stuffed animals. She saved those until last and then rather than give half of them up she pulled other things from the safety of the keep pile to meet the ransom. Girlfriend is nothing if not loyal to her plush toys. On the flip side, her My Little Ponies are probably feeling a little undervalued.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Personalizing O Henry

"When I grow up to be a father I'm gonna go on dates all by myself," Said Enzo from the back seat of the car the other day. We've been trying to remember what it was he said he was going to do once he reached fatherhood ever since. Today The Mr asked me in the hearing of Zizza if I'd had any luck remembering. I had not. Fortunately Zizza's spry seven year old brain had logged the information and once she knew we wanted it, she was happy to share. Thus we now have the full quote. I used to have a brain like that. When I took phone messages there was never any need to write more than the phone number. I could then identify that number on sight based on it's position on the paper and the color it was inked in. I thought creating contacts in my email account was a waste of time, it was so much easier just to type in the address I wanted from memory. Now in place of my memory I have babies. Babies who do and say things worth keeping forever in the memory I once had. It's my own Gift of the Magi.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Duke's birth- can it really be six months ago?

Before you start reading be forewarned: This is a birth story.  It's not the most graphic birth story I've ever read but if you are squeamish about such things you may want to consider this post dead to you. 

Forty one weeks and a day.  My mama had gone home 4 days earlier.  Contingency plan after contingency plan for child care had been made and passed by.  I became more uncomfortable with every passing hour.  Aches and cramps that I knew would never get any better until the elusive magic of labor intervened.

I called my midwife.  She was cheerful, "So you want to try to do something?" she asked.  "Yes!" I said "anything!" her suggestion was castor oil. I rethought the "anything."

As much as I wanted to have that baby already, I knew I didn't want to start labor by making myself ill.  Hypnobirthing is calm, peaceful, serene.  There's no way I'd be able to get my focus with my body already working to expel castor oil from my system.  So I told her I was thinking of trying acupuncture. "Yes!" she said. "If you're willing to do acupuncture that's a great way to go." Apparently most women would rather give themselves diarrhea than have needles inserted into their feet and ankles.

Moriah, my doula has a friend who's an acupuncturist so she set up the appointment for me.  We drove across town, I lumbered into the office and soon enough I was lying on a table in a dark room with porcupine feet and instructions to relax.

 The worst part of the whole thing was lying there.  If you've been forty one weeks pregnant before, or even just forty or thirty-something weeks you know that on your back is not a comfortable place to be.  The Dr had cushions and rolled up towels and whatnot strategically arranged to support me so I could lie comfortably during the treatment, and it worked for a while but after fifteen minutes or so, my baby girth was seriously inhibiting my breathing.

I lay there counting heart beats and listening for the timer that meant my treatment was through and the Dr would come back and help me up.  I would have shifted my position somehow but I didn't exactly know where the needles were (The only ones I could feel were in my pinky toes) and I thought likely I'd disturb them if I rolled over. He was surprised to see me craning my head toward the door waiting when he came in.  "You're waiting for me?"  he asked.  "Yes," I said "it's hot and I can't breathe"

I was disappointed to learn that the acupuncture wouldn't send me straight into labor. It triggered the hormones  but I'd still have to wait a few hours for those hormones to circulate through my system and pushy my body into labor.  I was disappointed, but not surprised.  I'd been not in labor for weeks at that point so continuing on in that state was a dreary non-surprise.  Still the Dr. assured me he'd never had anyone come back for a second treatment.  Every woman he'd ever treated had gone into labor within 24 hours.

We picked up the children from the most recent unused contingency plan and went home.  Moriah called to check on me later in the evening and I told her we were just putting the kids to bed, and then going to bed ourselves hoping not to make it through another night.

At 1:00 am I woke up to the welcome joy of a contraction.  This had happened a time or two in the days before.  I'd wake up, feel the contraction and jubilantly check the clock thinking it was finally time and then wake up again an hour or two later having fallen asleep waiting for the follow up contraction that never came.  This time though, I timed them. One. Two. Then another!  Five minutes apart. Finally!  I woke The Mr. told him to make the phone calls and put my hypnobirthing CD "rainbow relaxation" on repeat.  Then I rolled over, tucked in and slept for awhile as my body continued to labor.

Soon I heard the midwives(Sue and Selena) and Moriah arrive.  Sue came in to listen to the baby and asked me what time I'd woken up and how close the contractions were.  They were so gentle at that point I was worried I'd called a false alarm but Moriah assured me no one felt like their time was being wasted and on we went.

I wasn't feeling sleepy anymore so I got out of bed and walked around the house a bit.  I never thought I'd be able to maintain the level of relaxation needed to stay comfortable during labor without being perfectly still in bed, but I did.  I moved around the house, from the rocking chair into the kitchen and back with frequent potty breaks. if a contraction came wile I was walking I would just stop and breathe through before continuing on to wherever I was going.  I was comfortable, relaxed and overjoyed to finally be in labor and having the gentle dream like experience I'd always believed possible but never managed to attain.

A birthing tub had been inflated and waiting for weeks, tipped on it's side in front of the closet door in my bedroom. A reminder every time it had to be rolled aside to access the closet that the baby was coming...someday.

More than once when I mentioned home birth people told me of their crazy friends who's had babies in a blow-up tub in their dining room.  In those situations I chose to smile and nod rather than tell them they'd just described the basics of my birth plan.

The time had finally come.  The tub was filled with water and in I climbed. The contractions were getting a little stronger now and the tub was sublimely comfortable.  I was also starting to get a little antsy.  I knew it had been a few hours at least and as mellow as it was, I still didn't want to carry on hour after hour like I'd done with Zizza.(13 of them to get her)  I'd talked with Sue about breaking my water, and Moriah (who's been with me for all three births) knew that really helped me with Enzo and suggested this might be the time.

First Selena tried, but I make a very tough amniotic sac (hence the 10 hours at 7+ cm with waters intact with Ziz) plus it was plastered straight against Duke's head with no bulging so she turned the job over to Sue.

With the waters released things intensified and I had to close my eyes and keep my focus. Soon enough ( I have no idea how long it actually was) I was in the throes of transition.  All the mellow serenity I'd maintained through the bulk of labor was gone and it was all I could do to keep my head.  Between contractions I noticed a few amusing things and distracted myself with the jokes.  Like the "No Diving" sign on the side of the birthing tub.  Really?  The thing is two feet deep, there's a problem with diving?  Or the fact that Sue had borrowed a t-shirt after her's got wet while breaking my water.  She was wearing the one of the Mr's that reads "Monkeys steal my underwear at night"

As I got louder, fidgety-er and less in control I told myself this was a good thing.  This meant it was almost through.  I noticed Sue and Selena moving into position and getting things ready as they recognized the signs that I was nearly there.  I was both relieved and annoyed to see them preparing.  The relief was a rational thing to feel at that point, the annoyance I'll chalk up to crazy labor stuff.

I fought to keep my voice low. Moans rather than screams.  Screaming tenses the body and slows down the process.  Not to mention being extremely unpleasant.  When the contractions let up I centered myself and prepared for the next round.  I tried settling myself into a new position but as soon as a contraction came I flopped right back to the way I'd been.  "It's worse!" I yelled "Everything is WORSE!"  I also remember bellowing "WHY ISN'T IT OVER?!"

The next contraction came and I was freaking out.  I didn't know where to go, what to do, how to position my body to get through this one.  That's when the Mr dove (No diving!) into the tub and scooped me up. I relaxed (as much as possible) into him and made it through.  I was finally feeling Duke engaged in my pelvis.  Hallelujah!  It's so much more bearable once you can feel the baby.  Selena asked me then If I wanted her to check the baby's station  I said "No"  I didn't need that kind of help anymore.  I knew right where he was. "That's a baby" I said as I felt him move down.

 So I pushed, and I pushed and "Slow down!" Sue said "You don't want to tear," so I slowed down but even still, here he came and there he was!  All fat and round and brown hair!  I'd imagined brown hair.  "It's you!" I thought as I recognized my baby boy.

Out loud I said, "I am NEVER doing that again!" (I was referring more to pregnancy than to labor though we do have to consider that transition was very fresh in my memory at the time)

It was 4:59 a.m.  The rough phase had only lasted seven minutes.

I held him leaned against my knee as we waited for the cord to stop pulsing.  Again, just like with Enz the cord was extra fat and so short the babe couldn't reach past my belly button.  "I think I'll give you a 10 on the Apgar scale, " Sue said to my healthy 8 pound 10 ounce boy.  "His first perfect score!" I thought.  "Way to go baby!"

Soon enough we were all clean, dry and snuggled into my big bed  and just in time because MooMoo was awake and down she came to see us with Ziz and Enz not far behind.  What a treat to wake up to a new baby brother.  I remember what it's like to meet a new brother, how sweet to see it happen for them.

The whirlwind wound down.  The midwives packed up, Moriah said good bye and the Mr Took the kids out for breakfast.  I lay down again, in my bed right where I started earlier that morning.  This time with my baby Duke snuggled in my arms.  I looked into his perfect little face and said  "We did it baby.  You and me.  We did it together."



Saturday, November 26, 2011


Tree wise, which do you prefer real or artificial? 

I was raised on fake, then we went real for the first few years of marriage until we received a hand me down artificial.  We've been using that for the past seven or eight years, then today we bought a new pre-lit plastic spruce of our very own. 

It was pretty nice not to have to take the time to wind strand after strand of lights on but I have to say, I do a better job of lighting a tree than the factory did.  I like my trees to glow from with in.  The lights on this one are mostly at the tips of the branches with just a smattering set a bit deeper.  I'm tempted to dig the light strands out of the closet and wind a few inside close to the trunk to give it that otherworldly glow I like so much.  I'm not going to do it, but let the record show I was tempted.

The tree I grew up with was a monster.  A  horrific wire bottle brush monster.  There were 2 (3?) boxes each large enough to house multiple children (we were never allowed to play in or near the boxes) where it rested during the bulk of the year.  (Where the enormous boxes were stored during that time, I have no idea.) Then, come December my big brother would haul them out of hiding and assemble the beast.  

First he put up the trunk, a green painted dowel about two inches in diameter.  Around the trunk went a series of wire bristled rings meant to disguise the spindly green stick at the center of the tree.  Then came the limbs.  each one a long bristly arm with three clawed bristly fingers at the end.  The bottom limbs were too heavy to support themselves, let alone lights and ornaments and they sagged to the floor until enough gifts were wrapped and deposited in their place of honor to support them. Row after row of claw-like arms were inserted into corresponding holes in the trunk until the final crowning piece was placed to form the point at the top.  

The tree was enormously wide at the base and took up a very sizable portion of the room.  Between each row of limbs was a gaping void through which one could easily see the bristled rings bravely attempting to hide that green painted trunk.  If you walked too near the tree, you were likely to come away with a good scratch or two   at the very least.  But it was our  tree and as such, we loved it.

My dad had (has) a light switch converter thingamajig, a little box with a light switch on it that you plugged into the wall, and then plugged the Christmas lights into the little box so there was no bother with plugging and unplugging to turn the tree on and off. It was pretty cool when you got to be the one to flip the switch.  After all, even when your tree is made up of ghastly wire tri-fingered monster arms the magic of the twinkle lights is still in full force.  I imagine the light magic is what saved us from the tree's coming to life and dragging it's self around the house by it's floor sweeping claws.  No, that's not true.  Large and misshapen as it was, that beastly tree had a good kind heart. May it rest in peace. 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Troll the ancient Yule tide carol

I can't seem to find consistency with my Christmas music appetite. Last year (if you remember) I was given the opportunity to indulge mid-November and turned it down.  This year I've been craving it since October and the Mr is at his bah-humbug-est.

Yesterday he claimed that he's only ever enjoyed Christmas Music on Christmas it'self and even then the word "enjoy" was a bit of a stretch.  I happen to know that this is not true.  I remember specific examples (last year for one) when he has initiated holiday listening independent from me.  He has a collection of festive tunes over which I've exerted no influence.  Why would a person who only tolerates the striking of the harp for the benefit of others and joins the chorus out of a mere sense of duty, curate his own Christmas listening library?

Anyway, the point is that the time for Christmas music is here and I'm ready to enjoy it.

Also, I was thinking maybe I should issue a challenge to the Mr.  A challenge that involves writing a Christmas themed music post. What say you, Mr?

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Maybe it's the tryptophan, maybe it's that I haven't slept a solid night through in the past six months, or maybe i getting up to send Zizza off to school by 7 am every morning is catching up with me, but I am tired. Sleepy. Azausted. Just now I fell asleep watching "Cook's Country"  Clearly, my need for sleep in extreme.  I hope you'll excuse me as I trot off to bed, and I hope you all had happy Thanksgivings.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


The pies are baked, the rolls are par-baked, the potatoes are peeled and refrigerated in a water bath (this is just so I don't have to worry about peeling tomorrow) the yams are diced for baking, spinach ready to go.  The Mr is working on his brine for the turkey and there is Jell-o firming up, so I'd say we're pretty well on our way.

We're on our own for Thanksgiving this year.  Before you feel sorry for us hear this.  I've been looking forward to it for weeks.  Spend a day cooking and eating with my favorite people? What's not to love?

We're thinking of heading out to join in a local 5K in the morning. (we'll walk this time, thanks)  We'll go see a movie and then get our chef on.

I love that we get to make everything to our own tastes.  I'm the type who always eats mostly my own food at a pot luck. Not because I don't appreciate or trust other people's cooking, but because the act of cooking something myself, making the decisions about techniques and ingredients isn't really complete until I eat it.  honestly, its as much part of my enjoyment of a meal as the actual eating so if I'm not the one who cooked what I ate I don't end up enjoying it quite as much.  Make sense?

 I also like to analyze as I eat. Critique this, appreciate that, make note of what I'll do differently next time.  I've been working on not doing this so much when I have company.  I've noticed people sometimes think I'm just dissing my cooking skillz and it's not fun to hang out with someone who's dissing herself. Tomorrow I'll get to comment and critique as much as I want without causing any social awkwardness. 

Zizza is a little bummed about not having any cousins to play with but if I really put my mind to it I'm hoping I'll be able to win her over.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The pledge

Karen at The Art of Doing Stuff issued a pledge.  A pledge to complete all Christmas preparations by December fourth so as to have the ability to enjoy the month and the parties and what not.

I took the pledge.  Well, I took a modified pledge. My pledge was to finish the shopping and decorating by the fourth.  The making I'll enjoy working on as the month progresses, though I probably should set myself some deadlines for that as well so I don't neglect to do any of it.  

What all of this means is- it is now shopping crunch time.  I've got to get serious and make those purchases.  I tend to  browse and browse and browse putting off pulling the trigger until the last minute even on gifts I'm decided on.  I've got to put off those years of conditioning and end the browsing!  The time is now!  

Thanks for listening in on my self pep-talk.  I think tomorrow we'll discuss pies.  I've got sweet potato on my baking agenda for the morning.  I love me some sweet potato pie. 

Monday, November 21, 2011


I'm at a loss today.  If I worked at it I could drum up a post about the obstacles I encountered as I tried valiantly to prepare for the pie making activity I'm hosting/teaching tomorrow.  But I don't feel like drumming.  Instead I found this post in my drafts.  I wrote it the evening of June 30th planning to snap a picture when morning came and there was light to work with. 
The picture never happened.  Probably something to do with the five week old baby I had at the time. The post was forgotten until I plucked it from the drafts pile to ransom myself from the predicament of non-inspiration during the month when I've pledged daily posts. 

On Wednesday Ziz came down stairs, thrust a small piece of paper into my line of vision and said "This is not a game, it's for real."  It said "Cards and Envelopes $1.00"

She painstakingly decorated three envelopes and was ready to take them out to the curb and set up a stationary shop in the drive way. Unfortunately I was unwilling to lend my card table to the enterprise so the driveway-shop portion of her scheme met an untimely end.

Not to worry, she was unfazed by this moved on to arranging up a studio space for herself in the family room such that she could carry on with her designs.

At one point she realized she'd applied the decor on her latest creation upside down. She was a bit dismayed but bucked up when I told her she could just sell that one at a discount rather than scrap it all together.

Today, (Thursday)I had the honor of being her first customer. She offered me the opportunity yesterday but I didn't scrounge up the necessary change until today. I paid a dollar three for an envelope with a rainbow theme. Some lucky member of my correspondence will receive a missive tucked inside that art piece one of these days.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

On Friday I bought Enzo new church clothes for the winter. This time I checked to make sure the sleeves of his shirt were long enough before I brought it home. During the past week he's bee particularly enjoying this story from the Friend magazine about a boy who got a new white shirt like missionaries wear. He was pretty pumped to have a missionary shirt of his own, though he did mention while we were at the store that he'd be needing a suit coat to go with it. I was pretty pumped about his new clothes too. Enz tends to drag his feet a lot on Sunday mornings. He was so thrilled with his new attire I thought surely at least this once he'd wind up dressed with no whining, moaning or flopping dejectedly to the floor on his part, and no exasperation, bellowing or threats on mine. Sunday morning came and I crawled onto his bed and rubbed his back until his eyes fluttered open and awareness entered into them. Then I reminded him of what was hanging in his closet. In response he closed his eyes again and said, "Yeah but I need a coat, like a black one or a brown one...and a tie that stays on." Darn it, my dreams of his jumping out of bed and happily dressing himself without protest were destined to remain merely dreams. It wasn't too bad though. There were some minor cases of whining and exasperation but all in all it turned out well. He soothed his longing for a suit coat by donning the navy blue cardigan I bought for him to wear in the family pictures that never happened in October and off we went to church. When meetings were over and I arrived at his classroom to pick him up his teacher prompted me "Ask Enz what he is," so I did. "Hey Enzo," I said, "what are you?" and he promptly responded "I'm a-FIX-ticated!" And so you see his new clothes were a success. Even without a coat.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

You know what I like?  Yoga.

My first experience with Yoga was in college. My room mate had a Yoga video, P.M. Yoga with Patricia Walden, that I did with her.  To this day, over ten years later it is still my favorite.  The DVD also has A.M. Yoga with Rodney Yee but I don't care for that.

I did the routine last night for the first time in a long while and it was so delicious my body thanked me as I fell asleep.  I'm getting anxious to go and do it again right now.

You can get your own copy here. I just love Patricia Walden. The flexibility of that woman's spine is an inspiration.

Friday, November 18, 2011

15 lbs

My house smells like chocolate. This because there are fifteen pounds of it sitting on my kitchen counter. Well, really it's ten pounds of semi sweet chips and five pounds of peanut butter chips but I think peanut butter pretty much counts as chocolate when it's in chip form.

 Anyway, the house smells like chocolate. This is both a good, and a bad thing. It's a good thing because hey, chocolate! Chocolate smells good!

 It is a bad thing because I have sworn off sugar for six of seven days a week continuing through the next seven weeks and, well, (sigh) chocolate smells good.

 The chips aren't really a temptation in and of themselves. I  find semi-sweet chips don't suit me for eating out of hand. The temptation comes from knowing that my kitchen holds all that is necessary to elevate those chips from mere air-freshener status to the high and mighty post of  My favorite thing to shovel into my mouth. ie-warm chocolate chip cookies. 

Sure, I could wait for the magical day outside the blighted six but somehow cookie baking just doesn't happen for me on Sundays.(my designated sugar day) I bake rolls on Sundays, I bake cobblers and crisps on Sundays. Sundays are a great day to try out exciting new recipes but my old stand by just never fits with my Sunday jive. It's a mismatch somehow.

That being said, I've got a freebie coming to me in honor of the coming week's holiday. I'm considering the inclusion of chocolate chip cookies into the pantheon of Thanksgiving pies.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


When Zizza was three I took her to the dentist for the first time. He took one look in her mouth and said these words "Braces Mom," Zizza has a classic cross bite, the sooner corrected the better. Or so he told me. In other words, start the ortho as soon as her six year molars came in.

 On that day I had a mouth full of fairly new braces. New enough that all the jaw aches and the feeling of brackets against my lips and the liquid diet were fresh and raw in my memory. Not to mention the challenge of getting one's mouth clean when there's so much extra hardware involved. "And I'm going to have a seven year old going through this?" I said to myself as the fear of that coming day bubbled inside me.

As my fear was welling that day, Zizza was experiencing some emotions of her own.  Feelings such as joy, anticipation, excitement.  She started telling people "I'm going to get bracelets when I'm seven!" I never did correct the "bracelets" thing.  Let her think the whole point is to accessorize. I was dreading it all enough for the both of us.

After some time, my "bracelets" came off and we both sort of forgot about it. Then recently it came to my attention that the required age and tooth count had been acheived. Again, I was afraid. On the other hand, here is what Ziz wrote in her "life book."

I looked at that entry and thought "Poor darling, she has no idea what's coming," She even chose to go in and have spacers put in on Halloween day so she could participate in the costume contest at the office. I asked her if she was sure about it, cause a sore mouth on Halloween would be a major downer. She assured me that going to the orthodontist on Halloween was what she wanted to do. Here's what she wrote in her life book that day.

She wrote it immediately after the appointment. For the rest of the afternoon I watched her and waited for the awfulness to set in. I didn't plan on trick or treating. Surely she would be holding her face and moaning by that time... But she wasn't. She wanted to go.

 The spacers were such a non-issue for her that when she went back a week later to have bands put on her molars and still more spacers inserted the event didn't even warrant a life book entry. Today her "appliance" was inserted into her little mouth where it will stay for the next twelve months. She didn't need traditional railroad braces, just a thing-a-majig inside her top teeth to stretch that jaw wide enough to seat properly with the lower jaw. This was good news, no brackets to clean around, no mashing wax into said brackets to keep them from ripping up the back of lips. She talks a little funny, she says it feels weird, but that's it. This alone makes me think the head start on orthodontia is worth it.

 I would have taken a picture of her new little brace face but in order to see the metal in her mouth she has to open up as wide as possible and lean her head back. like a commercial for a Reach toothbrush so I didn't bother.  

 I do have a picture of the day her first front tooth (finally) fell out. It was another week after I wrote this that it had the gumption to wiggle free. Here you go, this is what she looks like, all toothless and orthodontically applianced.
The End

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

a reenactment

He started out like this

And when I came back he was like this

It was a few months ago. He wasn't moving much yet so one day I laid him on Zizza's bed while I attended to something or other in the other room.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

In the drink

Tonight in the bath The Dukester sat on his own for a series of nonconsecutive seconds. He thought it was pretty rad. So rad, in fact, that he went ahead and peed in the water.

Once I got that all taken care of and was about to start scrubbin' me up some beh-beh, he took it upon himself to poo in the fresh bath.

Eventually I did end up with a clean baby (and a newly scrubbed tub,hey hey!) but not before a series of warning bubbles surfaced in the third filling of the tub and I was like "Oh no you don't!" and soaped and rinsed that child with a speed he's never before experienced.

Anyhow, what I really want to discuss tonight are nick names. The lame potential nick names that have to be suppressed so as not to cause major embarrassment to both nick-namer and nick-named when that inevitable day comes that the name slips out into public hearing.

I've been calling Duke "Little Man" quite a bit for most of his life. Actually, it sounds more like "Littleman" all one word. Anyway it's morphed a bit. I mostly keep it in check but occasionally a "Littlemansy" pops out. More recently I've been been beating down the urge to call him "Mansy-Pansy" He's going to thank me for that one day.

I haven't encountered any dumb-bunny nick names for my girls the way I have the boys. That's probably because I mostly call them both "baby" all the time. I love that they let me. It's always so sad when a little one grows big enough to protest being called baby. I remember when my niece Nica stopped standing for it. I was a sad auntie.

I think I'm pretty much safe with Zizza now. She knows that being called baby doesn't make her any less a big girl, and with Ziz answering happily to baby Moo hasn't found herself too grown up for it either. Enzo does scold when I slip and call him baby but that's because he thinks it's a girl name, not because he thinks he's too big for it. I suppose only time will tell how Mansy-Pansy will respond.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Thank the land down under

I'm getting ready to host Enzo's preschool group tomorrow. This week's focus is the letter K.

At this time I'd like to express my gratitude for the continent of Australia, for without it's contribution of Koalas, Kangaroos and Kookaburras where would I be? Kicking the keys of the kingdom into a kettle with a kite. That's where.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


We were in Utah last month over Zizza's fall break. We dedicated a day of our visit to a Tour of the Northern Utah Grandparents. We headed north from Salt lake in the morning. First we visited one of Mr's grandmas, then mine, then his other grandma and grandpa and finally headed south again.

The weather was perfect that day and at our first stop there were walnut trees outside. Once the kids got fidgety I took them out side to explore while their Pop visited with his Grandma.

Turns out, walnut trees are pretty cool

The kids delighted in hucking the nuts at the sidewalk to break away the fleshy green husks. There was a woman watching us through her window. I thought she was enjoying the sight of frolicking children as elderly persons often do. Then she opened her window and called out "That makes it hard for people to walk, you know!" I was wrong, she wasn't the type to enjoy the joy of children, she was the type to enjoy worrying and scolding. I assured her that we would clear the sidewalk before we left, and we did. I hope the worry and scolding we inspired enriched her day.

Ziz left the nuts she harvested for the faeries to find.

Later on there was another curiosity to explore.

But once you huck a caterpillar at the pavement the fun is pretty much over...
(nobody really hucked the caterpillar)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Here's a question

When you've been reading and you put down your book, do you leave it face down or face up? What do you think that says about you? I'm inventing a new personality analysis quiz and that's going to be one of the questions. I think it's very telling.

Not really.

Here's what this is all about. The other day the Mr started a new book. My first encounter with it was in the bathroom where I found it on top of the toilet tank.

Is that not unsettling? I was so creeped out I had to turn the book over before I could do what I was there to do. Since then I've noticed that The Mr consistently puts his book face down. I have to flip it every time I walk by his night stand.

This led me to wonder if I have a pattern in my setting down of books. I would guess that which side I place it on would depend on whether I was closer to the beginning or the end. I may have to start a book just so I can monitor my book placement. I doubt I'd get an honest result though, now that I'm thinking about it.

I'll bet you're glad you took the time to come by today. I'm sure this topic has been riveting. Next time we'll talk about which ear you prefer to hold the phone to, also which shoe do you put on first?

Friday, November 11, 2011

For Monroe

Last week a baby I know was blessed and I got to make her dress.

I'm not going to lie: It wasn't my best work. I'm happy with the design but the execution was sub par. I like my baby dresses to be flawless. Unfortunately procrastination + a nasty cold left me without the time or patience to achieve it this time.

In the end I had to trust that the flawlessness of the baby would overshadow my less than tidy hand stitching and send the dress along in it's imperfect state.

I really love the black buttons and bow. Too bad I botched the finishing work.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

So Good

Lately the kids spotted giant apples at the grocery store and begged for them. I gave in and bought 2 for the sake of novelty.

It might have been my best novelty spurred purchase to date.

Those enormous apples were the best apples I have ever set my teeth to. Perfectly crisp and tender, juicy and sweet. The stickers on them name the variety as "Honey Crisp." Do yourself a favor and seek them out.

On our more recent trip to the store I loaded a bag full to bursting with those over-sized beauties. I need to go back for more. I never want to be stuck eating any other kind of apple ever again.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Seven is a magic age. I remember when my sister was seven. She could do that thing on roller skates where you turn your feet out and roll round and round in a circle like you're standing on a record. Also, she had the "mean" teacher but she still went to school everyday.

I sat in my neighbor's driveway one glowing autumn afternoon, watched her skating(right next to the crumbly part of the sidewalk even, that's what we call bravery) and thought "Someday, I'll be seven."

I don't recall the specifics of being seven myself.

Newly seven year old Zizza does not have a mean teacher, on the contrary in fact, but she does go to school every single day without complaint. Does her homework too.

She can't do that spin thingy on her roller skates but the other day when she had them on she actually glided along on the pavement a bit rather than stomping through the rocks as she's habitually done in the past.

I watch her learning to glide through the fading autumn light and I think "I was seven once."

Seven is a magic age. It really is amazing.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Who's the boss

Walking to pre-school today Enzo was full of indignation. In the beginning he grumbled about how tired it made him to walk. Then we picked up his friend and he changed it up. While his friend ran ahead in normal four year old fashion Enzo trudged beside me grumbling. His soliloquy went something like this;
"He thinks he's the boss but he's not the boss. YOUR MOTHER'S THE BOSS! He's not the boss, mothers are the boss...and dads. Right mom? YOU ARE NOT THE BOSS OF ME! kids have to stay on the side walk STAY ON THE SIDEWALK! because kid's are not the boss. YOU'RE NOT THE BOSS!"

Monday, November 7, 2011

Sharing is Caring

Today I'd like to share with you one of my new go to recipes.

For years I've experimented with garlic bread sticks. Putting the garlic butter on before baking vs.after baking, using fresh garlic vs. powdered. Well, I finally found the secret and now I find myself looking for reasons to bake bread sticks.

Really they go with almost every thing. Having peanut butter sandwiches for dinner? Bread sticks go well with that.

Here's the recipe I've been using.

The dough is good, but if you have a roll recipe you like go ahead and use that. The real secret is the application of the garlic butter. Brush it on once and the middle of baking and then again at the end. That middle application never made it into my experiments and as such I never counted any of them a success.

One other note; I don't actually follow the recipe for the garlic butter. It calls for 1/2 cup unsalted butter, 2 teaspoons garlic powder and 2 teaspoons salt. Here are the problems I have with that.

First; Two teaspoons is way-hay-hay to much salt. The link above recommends cutting the amount in half. I did that on my first run and it was still too much salt for me. I use about 1/2 a teaspoon and I'm happy.

Second; If you're just going to dump a butt load of salt in anyway, why would you bother using unsalted butter? Why?

That is all. Now, go forth and bread stick.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Pick your battles

Enzo received a copy of "How To Train Your Dragon" (the movie) for Christmas last year. He adored it. Whenever it came up as a topic of conversation or imaginary play he talked of Stoic the Vast or, as he put it "Hiccup's dad." Apparently Hiccup himself, despite being the hero of the story, wasn't "Viking like" enough to impress my Enzo.

As early as January I was planning the costume in my head. Fur cape, huge glorious yarn beard... This costume would be epic.

Eventually I broached the subject with Enz. "No," he said, "I wanna be Toofless."

Toothless? He'd barley ever mentioned that dang dragon. I dropped the subject and came back to it the next time he was in the thick of a game of "Hiccup's dad" Even then, in the heat of imaginative Vikingness, he insisted that he'd rather be the dragon.

I shared my frustration with The Mr and he suggested that he could be Stoic and Enzo could be Hiccup. I was mildly flabbergasted. I never thought I'd see the day when my husband would volunteer himself to be costumed but Enz was no more interested in this new outfit scenario.

So I was making a dang Toothless.

I've learned something over the last few years of Halloweens. As much as I love making intense costumes, they can really be a drag. If a costume is hard to wear or the least bit fragile, it will likely stop being fun.

The Elephant worked for my nephew despite it's being so unwieldy because it was his own idea and having it come to life made up for the trouble of walking in it. The following year he lent it to Zizza and that didn't go over quite so well.

Ziz felt like a real live scullery-step-child turned princess in her Cinderella Dress but I had her fully under-dressed and had to strip that gown off for every slide and bounce house we encountered. The memory of all the undressing and re-dressing is why I even bothered sewing for Moo this year when the preparation could have been as easy as showing her the frothy blue gown I have squirreled away upstairs.

If I were making a Toothless that actually looked like Toothless it would have been a major undertaking and I'm not talking about the time and brain power of making the thing, I'm talking about the strain of wearing something like that.

So I did this instead.

A mask, a tail, and a pair of wings all at home on a hoodie paired with a pair of slippery black pants declared to be "cozy enough for jammies." The whole thing took about 2 hours and he was happy as a clam.

I never did put a zipper in the hoodie, I didn't have a black separating one in my stash, he thought my suggestion of putting in the orange-ish red one was absurd and I still haven't made it to a fabric store.

Maybe If I'm lucky Duke will take an interest in Stoic and someday I'll get the pint-sized Viking Chieftain I dreamed of. He'd just have to strap off the beard for the bounce houses. I think we can handle that much fuss.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Hand me down Halloween

Lucky for me, and for Duke I totally rocked on Enzo's first Halloween so Duke's first costume was as simple as a quick search through the Halloween bin.

I have to say, may favorite part of this costume is the hood. Is it the accentuated cheek chub? Is it the way it brings focus to the sweet little face? I don't know, but I love it.

Duke was not uber thrilled about posing for pictures today so Ziz was kind enough to help him pose thus sparing him the ordeal of being propped up on various surfaces to get the angles I wanted.

Fun fact: If you followed the link to Enzo in the turtle costume you surely noted that he was dead asleep propped against that pumpkin. Well, Duke did the same thing at the Halloween party this year. A friend of mine was snuggling him and he completely zonked out and stayed that way through a few rounds of pass the baby.

I love sleeping turtles.

Friday, November 4, 2011


A few days ago as I set to prepare for the month of daily posting I lived a little mini nightmare.

In early October my computer was acting up. The Mr bade me back up my files so he could get to the bottom of it. I did that. He double checked my work just to make sure I hadn't missed anything and the computer repairs continued on from there.

Can you guess the cause of my recent distress?

All of my pictures from July 2010 through September 2011 are gone.

At first, though upset, I didn't realize the strength of the blow. After a few minutes the thought dawned on me that all of my pictures of little Duke were gone.

I stared at the file directory on my screen. Stunned. Horrified. Distraught. Fighting to quell the oncoming physical symptoms of freak out.
Then I remembered something.
A saving grace.
The pictures from his birth were originally uploaded to The Mr's computer while I lay blissfully bonding with my velvet prize. We're still missing the photos of his first days weeks and months, but those of his first hours are safe and sound.

It's not much, but it's better than nothing.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

four and five

I'm interrupting the Halloween costume reports to show you Duke's four and five month photos.

At four months+three days when this photo was taken, no teeth had yet been found in that wee mouth. He had however already insisted that I give him food to eat in spite of my plan to wait on the solids until the last possible moment, thus keeping him tiny.

Also at four months he was too big to lay comfortably in the truck bed, but still too floppy to be propped up to sitting. It was tricky getting him situated to say the least. Just look at his little face; even he was worried about it.

Five months came around(actually almost five and a half by the time I took the photos) and now the prop to sit is no problem.

He's up to two teeth now (as of Tuesday or so) and he tends to suck in his lips and explore the feeling of his mouth's new tenants against them.

Another notable change from the past month, his kewpie doll hair-do has nearly disappeared. (sad face)

My attempts to keep him tiny are failing at every turn. The Mr declared him too big for the bassinet and narrowly escaped a pummeling.

Judge me as you will for saying so, but I've never enjoyed a baby so much as I'm enjoying this one.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


At some point in my early teens I saw a picture in a magazine of a baby in a lion costume. The mane was made of yards upon yards of curled ribbon.

Then and there I swore I'd do that one day.

The only problem was, I didn't want to put my boy in yards and yards of curled ribbon but lionesses don't have manes so would the costume really suit a girl any better?

Two years ago I decided dressing a girl as an effeminate lion would be fine, and I bought 80 yards of grosgrain ribbon in shades of yellow, tan and orange.

Then I learned that Moo would indeed be leaving us and the thought of making the costume and having her go before wearing it was too much. She ended up staying with us until June, but that's another story. She and I wore the gypsy costumes I made the year Zizza was that size and all was well.

This year I finally used that ribbon.

Here is Moo's scary lion pose. Watch out for those claws.

She roared every time she saw herself in the mirror wearing that get-up. It was a treat to take her to the potty.

Now, see the scratch on her chin? Yeah, she fell down in the street. She does that kind of a lot. I've been insisting she ride in the stroller as much as possible.

The scabs on her knees from falling 2 days consecutively had just come off when she caught the chin. Poor girl.

On the night of our church Trunk or Treat she had whiskers like Zizza's that's the only time I bothered though. Once the mane entered the equation whiskers didn't make a big enough impact to me worth the trouble.

And in case you wondered, the lion did have a tail.

The End

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Zizza declared one day mid summer that for Halloween she wanted to be a black cat, and I could be her witch.

Time went on and eventually it was time for me to start working on the costume. "How," I asked myself, "can I give the classic black cat costume a little more character? A little twist to make it our own?" That's when I decided to make it blue. (also I had this Navy linen blend on hand)

The next step was to sell Ziz on the navy blue idea. I timed it just right, we were out just the two of us, shopping for nail polish. I reminded her of the navy polish we had at home and how it tends to read as black. Then I went for it. "What would you think of making your cat costume navy instead of black?" I asked her, and she agreed.

How do you think she would have reacted to the idea if I'd just said "listen kid, I think navy blue will be cuter plus, I've already got the navy fabric so that's that." My guess is, probably not so well.

The whiskers were on my mind from the beginning. I knew that if I could find the right whisker substance I could easily glue it to her face with eyelash adhesive. I just had to find that perfect substance. In the end we used bristles snipped from a paint brush.

Worked like a charm

Sadly, I didn't get my act together in time to come up with a Witch costume for myself. I went as a tired mother with no make up and probably a spit-up stain on my shoulder. It was very glam I assure you.