Friday, February 27, 2009

For Posterity's Sake: Week in Review: 8

What is that, you ask? Why, a circle, of course. A pretty "outta sight" circle, I might add ("Outta sight," being this week's catch-phrase, taught to Audrey by her Dad. Every night she yells, "Mama, you outta sight" - prompted by Jason as he whisks her off to bed).

This week has been filled with adventures in shapes and the creative handling of food, spaghetti being just one of Audrey's favorite mediums for artistic expression:

Sunday, while in church, we were using our most common mechanism of child-distraction, the Etch-N-Sketch, in hopes of getting through the last ten minutes of the service commotion-free. Granted, prayer might have gotten us a bit further with this goal, but being near-sighted and desperate, we chose the Etch-N-Sketch. Jason, taking a turn with the magnetic pen, drew a slightly lop-sided circle, thinking Audrey would surely be able to identify it, pointing out circles being a favorite pastime as of late. He showed her his work and asked what it was. She looked at the picture, looked at him, and said very matter-of-factly, "oval."

While we made it through the church service commotion-free on Sunday, we weren't so lucky at home. Audrey had a spill, got a boo-boo, and could not be comforted. After seeing that she wasn't hurt, and trying everything else I could think of, I offered to let her watch a movie. She quit crying and as I put the movie in said, "See. Watch movie. Audrey stop crying." Yes, I've been had by someone not even a quarter of my age.

The creative expression through food has not been limited to spaghetti shapes. You may remember our mandarin-orange-library-book sandwich yesterday. Wednesday, Audrey opened her peanut butter sandwich (one slice of bread folded in half), took a few bites out of the middle, and wore it like a bib. So today, I made some pizza dough, cut up some toppings (some even in the shape of circles) and let Audrey have a hand as our pizza designer. I thought it might be a, ahem, more appropriate outlet for her creativity; and the results: outta sight!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

"Oh What a Beautiful Morning, Oh What a Beautiful Day..."

This morning, Audrey woke up singing - SINGING: something about Curious George and things I could not quite understand. By the time I got to her room, she was saying, "Look, Mommy, Audrey dancing." And, she was - on top of two open books.

Maybe my mother can recount a similar tale, but I don't remember ever waking up singing. Waking up feeling gratitude for the warmth and comfort of my bed - yes. Waking up feeling even more gratitude for a few more minutes to sleep in - yes, yes! Waking up in such a good mood it moves me to sing - never.

We sat in Audrey's room and read the two books that had served as her dance floor before heading to the kitchen for her requested breakfast of mandarin oranges. Audrey contentedly nibbling away, I quickly ran upstairs to grab a pair of socks, wondering what a day would be like with a toddler who has already amassed enough energy and joy to sing at 8 am. I hear "Look, Mommy," before I even get to the kitchen. Once there, I notice her bowl is empty. Then I notice the book. The book I thought was out of her reach. The book that belongs to the library. The book that was once empty, but now has mandarin oranges sandwiched between its dripping pages.

I clean it up as best I can and administer the books-are-not-the-appropriate-place-for-oranges time-out/lecture. Audrey sits for two minutes looking morose, tells me that putting oranges in books is a no-no. Then safely out of time-out, she begins to sing again. I blot the book a few more times, and while I keep myself from it, I think about laughing, because really, what else can I do as I imagine handing the book (pulled from the brand-spanking-new-books section of the library, I might add) over to the well-polished librarian who wonders why it smells a little like something out of a child's lunchbox.

The day has begun.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


For those of you wondering just what we did yesterday that brought us home so late, and what that double check of fun was my little one had, well here you go: we were at the pool. The Hilton's pool, that is. The last two days, Jason has been at a meeting downtown. Yesterday, we met up with him briefly to swap tales for the day and to swipe his room key to gain admission to the indoor pool.

I remember traveling on family vacations as a girl with my sisters, our excitement at staying at the Holiday Inn - being allowed to jump on beds that were not our own, but most importantly, being able to swim in the indoor pool. So, yesterday, when Jason mentioned we could stop by to use the pool if we wanted, we decided to take him up on it and try to capture some of that childlike magic that comes with being able to swim when it's 30 degrees out, because that kind of magic - we could use a little more of that.

The water was cold, a little too cold. But we eased our way in and began to splash around. Somewhere between small wrinkled kicking feet and discovering that the hot tub was barely warmer than bath water, we found that magic we were looking for - one day of 30 degree weather well spent just splashing around and laughing inside.

photo by Jason

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Today was one of those good but full days where all of the important things got done (air filter replacement bought - check; car filled with gas - check; birthday cards written and mailed - check; big fun had by the little one - double check), just not in the time frame I had originally thought. As Audrey and I pulled into the driveway at ten til eight, having not had dinner and still in need of a bath and bedtime books (I know, not one of my better shows of time management), all I could think about was how much my back wanted to melt into the couch, or the bathtub, or some distant warm island cabana. But, the couch - and definitely the cabana - being a long ways off, I opted for dinner, instead, and bath time, and one last book. Then, I tucked my one-of-a-kind into bed underneath these two blankets that are also one-of-a-kind, made just for Audrey before we even knew who she would be: a girl strong enough to wear me out in the best of ways, yet fragile enough to need a couple extra layers on a cold night. And I reached for my camera, knowing that it was way past her bedtime, but thinking that, perhaps, these tired moments might be the most important to capture, to remind me later that when my back ached the most and my eyelids were heavy, I was not alone but had the loving hands of Pat, Rose, and Beth (who put so much time and energy into creating these blankets) helping to put my little one to bed - keeping her warm all those winter nights. Thank you ladies! Now, I'm finally off to melt into some warm blankets of my own. Good night.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Fashionably (or Just) Late

The great thing about 2-year-olds is they don't live by their calendars. When you pull out their just-completed Valentine's Day gift on February 23rd, they don't whip out their palm pilots, pull up their calendars, and give you a smug look that says, "what took you so long?" They take the gift, smile, and start to play. At least, that was the response from my 2-year-old when I presented her with her new puzzle game at breakfast this morning.

Audrey loves puzzles. She can also count to ten (occasionally - and sometimes frequently - leaving out the number eight). Lately, number books have been a big hit, especially one she received from her Grammy for Christmas. I've noticed that most of the books show the number spelled out (five), the numeric number (5), and a picture of some objects whose number corresponds with the numeric and spelled out number (5 balls). The book from Grammy takes things one step further with numbered buttons on a side panel that say the number when you push them. Audrey has started to master pushing the right numbered buttons, but each number is written in a separate color, so I don't know if she recognizes the numbers or is just matching the up the colors and shape of the numeric numbers. Also, most of the number books we have use different objects to illustrate the numbers on each page.

I started thinking about how I could simplify the idea of matching numeric numbers up with counted objects and came up with the idea of these Valentine puzzle pieces. Now, the colors and objects are the same, so the only thing that makes one puzzle coupling different from the rest is the numeric number and number of hearts. The puzzles are made out of a medium-thickness cardboard box that used to house a yoga mat, but more recently found itself on top of the to-be-recycled heap. I traced some puzzle pieces we already own onto the cardboard then used an exacto knife to cut them out. I painted them white using two coats of acrylic paint left over from another project then used red acrylic paint to freehand the numbers and hearts (again, two coats). I thought of this project at the beginning of February, when it seemed like it would take a week, tops, to carve out niches of time to complete it. I finally finished it at 10 pm last night. What can I say, turns out I'm not a speed demon with the exacto knife or paintbrush. Luckily, two-year-olds don't care.

Friday, February 20, 2009

For Posterity's Sake: Week in Review 7

On Tuesday, Audrey asked to wear her angel wings (a very sweet gift from her aunt and uncle). Of course, once they were on, she decided she wanted to take them off. Trying to do it herself, she ran around in a circle as if chasing her own tail, a maneuver I've seen our dog perform several times, but had never witnessed in human terms. This got me laughing and reaching for my camera, simultaneously. I quickly snapped this picture (yes, I only made her suffer through one picture) before coming to her aid. Of course, once I took the wings off, she decided she wanted them right back on.

This week, Audrey showed her typical enthusiasm (and possibly the emergence of her techie side - thanks to Dad) when she gently petted my laptop and announced, "Neat. Like it." While she has always been somewhat fascinated by my computer, I think this increased appreciation may have something to do with the web cam her Dad had us pick up so she can now see and talk to him while he's at work.

Last night, while Jason changed her diaper, Audrey touched his face and said, "Nice eyes. Nice nose. Nice mouth. Nice chin." She even told him he has "nice hands" and a "nice knee." What can I say? I think he's pretty nice, too.

But the highlight of Audrey's week occurred Tuesday night when Jason taught her how to crack and whisk eggs. Since then, not a day has gone by that I haven't heard how she helped Daddy with the eggs to make dinner.

As Audrey grows, I am more and more impressed with (and appreciative that I am allowed to witness) the way that she views and takes in her world. She claps when she spies a statue of a dinosaur or waves her arms in excitement at some ducks swimming by and I wonder if she thinks the world is performing one large concert just for her. She notices the things I quickly walk by and tugs at my hand until I stop to properly inspect a driveway of rocks or a leaf on the sidewalk; and I realize that if it were not for her, in my haste to get on with "important things," I would be missing much of life's concert simply running from place to place, chasing my own tail.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

I've Been Whipped

On Sunday, while dining with friends, the subject of bananas came up. My friend, Courtney, confessed a love of all things banana, and I have to say, I get where she's coming from. I rarely come across a banana-spiked concoction that I don't like. A couple of weeks ago, I ran across this recipe for Heavenly Banana Cake. I had been waiting for the ideal baking conditions: a mound of ripe bananas + an exorbitant amount of free time in which to bake, when my conversation with Courtney reminded me of the recipe sitting in my "must try" pile. This week, perfect conditions being met (okay, I wouldn't call what I had an exorbitant amount of time, but it was enough time to whip up a cake), I got down to business. This cake is simple to make and is a really pretty shade of yellow as you're mixing it up (I guess an extra egg yolk does that for you).

The recipe includes a Super Special Cream Cheese Frosting, which I didn't make. In my opinion, any cake worth its salt should be good without the icing. That, and my daughter tends to only eat the icing when she's given an iced piece of cake (she has her own, ahem, opinions about frosting). Thanks to the bananas, this is a moist cake, which even passed the picky husband test (impressive, since Jason rarely finds a piece of cake he can't turn down). I have to admit, it does taste very similar to my banana bread and the cream cheese frosting might just give it that little extra something had I made it. So if you try it with the frosting, please report back to me. I hope you enjoy. I'm off to email a friend about a cake...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Things We're Born With

Some days, I feel like the most frequently used word in my vocabulary is "no." We are in that critical shaping period: the one where Audrey tests our boundaries and we respond "no" repeatedly in hopes of teaching her behaviors that will keep her safe and mold her into a kind, polite human being. It amazes me how innate this ability to test one's parents and push one's boundaries is. I have yet to run across a two-year-old who doesn't possess this skill, complete with a mischievous grin and squint of the eyes. Much of my days are spent in a battle of wills: me trying to break hers while at the same time hoping that she never folds completely and this bold fearlessness that I admire in her so much is not a phase.

We spent the afternoon at the Children's Museum. There are moments when I love this place like no other: "Yes, we can ride the carousel twice," "Yes, you can play in the water as much as you want." But there are also moments when I fear losing her in the crowd, when I tell her "no, you can't let go of my hand." Today was spent like most of my days, attempting to balance my nay-saying with a few resounding "yeses." I watched other parents doing the same and threw a few sympathizing looks to moms when their toddlers yanked a plastic dinosaur or Lego out of my toddler's hands. I saw some innate-boundary-testing connoisseurs.

Then, I saw something else. Several students were at the museum participating in field trips. A few of these students were in the dinosaur exhibit at the same time as Audrey and I. I had let Audrey slip her hand out of mine to explore on her own a bit. She crawled into a tunnel as a couple of students were crawling out. Upon seeing Audrey crawl inside, one girl (I'm guessing around nine-years-old) stayed behind. I heard her talking to Audrey, pointing out things Audrey could see if she crawled into different parts of the tunnel: a fish over here, a dragonfly there. I stepped back a bit, not wanting my presence to scare the girl away. As I watched the two of them interact, I was reminded of another innate ability we all seem to share, the want to help others smaller or younger than ourselves. I have seen it in the youngest of kids, my neighbor's three-year-old checking on Audrey after she's stumbled at the playground. Waiting for Audrey by the tunnel, it struck me that the presence of this innate ability is even more amazing than our need to test our boundaries - and that this very girl was once two and pressing her limits. As I watched the girl crawl out of the tunnel and run to rejoin her friends, I smiled and wished her mom could see her.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Sweet Storage

A few weeks ago, I snagged these cookie jars from a clearance shelf at Target. The glass and metal combo makes me think of old-fashioned soda shops and root beer floats. I thought they'd be perfect to store some of the supplies in my hopefully-sooner-to-be-organized-than-later workspace. (Nothings says "whimsy" like some funky cookie jars in your workspace, well, maybe some really yummy pretty cookies do). I also like their multi-functional nature. If I ever decide I have too much storage in my workspace (I know, seriously, what are the odds?), they can always find a home in my pantry or on the kitchen counter.

While I don't know what supplies will end up making their home in these containers, I'm having fun playing with the possibilities. Storage that makes it fun to organize, well, that is sweet, indeed!

Monday, February 16, 2009


Remember Project: Valentine? Friday night we finished up our little project and were able to share a little Valentine love with my nephew in the shape of this bib. We turned to Robert Indiana's Love painting (1966, seen at the Indianapolis Museum of Art) for a little inspiration. Don't worry, we're not trying to steal Mr. Indiana's idea for any monetary gain, just a little doting on the nephew. We changed it up just a bit and got to work making a freezer paper stencil for the bib front. If you are interested in learning to make stencils using freezer paper (which, I highly recommend - it's a really easy way to, say, cover up that irremovable stain on your kid's shirt), here are two helpful guides: Printing by Hand, by Lena Corwin and The Creative Family, by Amanda Blake Soule. The free bib pattern can be found here. The bib was made out of some t-shirt fabric remnants.

Audrey added her own touch to the gift by helping to stamp the card (a first for her). Unfortunately, I forgot to snap a picture of the card before we sealed it up.

We hope you were able to spend the weekend doting on someone you love. On the off chance you need to kick-start your Monday with some Valentine's Day-inspired humor, here is a little poem I wrote as part of a game played at a recent mom's group meeting. Each lady was randomly handed two cards that contained words she must use in a Valentine's poem to her spouse. My words were "barbie house" and "fireside." Here is my poem (keep in mind we had about 5 minutes to write these):
I used to play with a barbie house, a mansion that was pink.
A pool outside, a fireside, all the amenities of which I could think.
But no matter what I put inside, no Ken could quite compare,
To the hunk of burning love with whom a house I share.
Wishing you much love!

Friday, February 13, 2009

For Posterity's Sake: Week in Review 6

The catch-phrase this week is "Let's do it." I'm not sure where Audrey picked it up, but we've been taking the attitude to heart. With the weather warming up for a few days, this week has been a time for getting back to some outdoor exploration: long walks and a trip to the zoo, where upon leaving the gazelles, Audrey yelled, "Bye-bye gazelles. Love you, gazelles."
Exploration has taken place inside as well. Just because she's not eating the apples, (see photo above) doesn't mean she's not learning from the apples. A lesson in balance, anyone? (And yes, that's us sporting the Halloween bib, long after Halloween).
Keeping with our penchant for disregarding normally-scheduled holiday time-frames, on Tuesday, Audrey requested I sing "Jingle Bells," repeatedly. I complied. I mean, how can I not after forcing her to wear a Halloween bib the week of Valentine's Day?
Wednesday, as I made dinner, she settled herself into a chair at the kitchen table and read Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? (thanks Uncle Boo and Aunt Beth - one of her favorites, still) to me three times, rote-memorization-style, then refused to repeat this show of memorization prowess once her father got home.
Thursday, I gave her some toys to occupy her in the bathroom as I cleaned the shower. At one point (as I'm bent over on my hands and knees scrubbing the shower floor), she comes over, pats my back while looking at the shower floor and says, "Nice Mama. Like it." Gotta love a girl who appreciates my dirty, I mean, handiwork.
And my favorite story of the week:
Last night when Jason got home from work, he joined Audrey who was sitting on the couch. He wanted to lie down, and the only way to achieve this was by setting his head in Audrey's lap. After asking her if it would be alright, he lay his head on her lap. She started to pat his head. After a few minutes, Jason decided to get up. But, when he lifted his head, Audrey pushed it back down saying, "No. No. Daddy, night-night." Daddy did as he was told.
We hope you have a weekend filled with adventure. Let's do it!
*Sorry about lack of spaces, my page seems to have technical difficulty with spaces sometimes. I can't figure it out.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Out of Hibernation

Yesterday, we walked along a tree-lined path and talked about the things we saw:

The colors we could name;

The textures we could touch;

Some things on their way to somewhere else;

Some things coming back;

Everything moving at its own quiet pace, even us.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Spreading the Love

I'm not sure how old I was when my grandfather died of lung cancer. I was young enough that the memories come back more as splashes than waves: being surprised that such a physically imposing man (he was 6'4") was confined to a bed; the gentle reminders to be quiet as I played in the family room with my sister and cousins; going into the bedroom one-at-a-time for visits; it being dark except for the glow of a candle when it was my turn inside. I also remember each grandchild receiving a monetary gift from my grandfather to spend as each of us wished. I don't remember now if it was $25 or $50. I do remember that it was enough to give someone as young as I was a moment's pause as to how I would spend it. I wanted to be respectful of the gift, to get something that would last and remind me of my grandfather. I decided on a bird feeder. I had spent many afternoons at my grandparents' house watching birds and squirrels with my grandmother. But most importantly, the bird feeder went front and center in our backyard, a daily reminder when I looked out our kitchen window - one that stayed there well past my high school years until the wood began to decay and it had to be taken down.

I hadn't given much thought to bird feeders until a couple weeks ago, when it dawned on me that I haven't had one for years. Even before the purchased bird feeder, we had made the typical run-of-the-mill pine cone and peanut butter versions and displayed them proudly in our trees. Such bird feeders gave me a special feeling of responsibility as a kid. I remember going into Poor & Sons to buy bags of seed and the sense of pride I felt carrying the seed out of the store, as if I was taking responsibility for a little flock of wildlife - that my small action somehow mattered. What made me stop making these simple bird feeders? When did I get too old or too busy to do something so simple that used to bring me such joy?

So, I was thrilled last week when Jason brought home a bag of seeds from a generous coworker (Thanks, Ruby!) intended for Audrey to use in her own bird feeder endeavors. Yesterday, we spread out the vinyl tablecloth and got down to business with our peanut butter, birdseed, and some heart-shaped cardboard cut-outs. If you are interested in the bird feeders we made, you can find instructions here. There is something satisfying about pulling out the tablecloth, knowing you're going to make a mess - and then following through with that mess. The smiles that getting messy elicit from your little one and a sweet little valentine to share with the birds are more satisfying still. We let our little seed valentines dry overnight before taking them out to hang on our fence this morning (we really need to work on planting trees this year). I can't tell you what Audrey was thinking this morning as I lifted her up to loop her bird feeders around our fence posts, but I was remembering what it felt like to be hoisted onto my grandfather's shoulders and have my head skim the ceiling above.

Monday, February 9, 2009

I Have A Picasso

Saturday morning, while on the phone with Jason (taking my doughnut order from a local bakery we wanted to try out), I turn the corner to find Audrey composing this little masterpiece:

While I'm all in favor of her exploring her creativity, this was not the exploration I had in mind. I gasp, mumble, "Gotta go," and hang up. As I strap her into her booster seat, I'm wonder where she managed to find a permanent purple marker that probably hasn't been used since my high school days ("Go Tiger Cubs!") - and, how is a marker that is over a decade old not dried out by now? While consulting Talking Dirty with the Queen of Clean, I get the text from Jason asking if everyone is okay. A quick nondescript text "we're fine, just cleaning it up" later and I'm onto tackling the door one nail-polish remover-soaked cotton ball at a time. I had just given up on getting any more of the marker out when Jason gets home with a box of doughnuts and a little white bag, which he gives to me. I open it to find these little tokens of appreciation for a morning roughly spent:

Hello, silver lining.

Friday, February 6, 2009

For Posterity's Sake: Week in Review 5

Sunday, we were able to pack the snow surrounding us and create a little playground in our backyard. After we built a family of snowmen (complete with their own dog, which Audrey tried to ride), Jason focused his efforts to creating a tunnel through which Audrey could crawl (actually, Daddy could, too). I took a moment to lay down in the snow and enjoy the sunlight heavy on my closed eyelids - a brief reminder that warmer weather is on its way. Above me, I heard a plane fly by and could imagine its passengers on their way to Fiji, and me with them. Until, I felt the snowballs headed my way.

After another temperature drop, the remainder of this week has been spent mostly in quiet moments: watching movies and reading books on the couch or coloring at the table as we wait for our sinuses to settle down and our energy to return. But there have been some moments of liveliness: a game of chase where Audrey tried to catch me and lick my face (I have no idea what this was about other than her giggles at my grossed-out reaction); requests for the ABC song; and lots of dancing (mostly me holding her as I swayed in the kitchen, once looking down to find she had fallen asleep).

This week, Audrey has a new favorite song, a new favorite medicine, and a new catch-phrase. Every day she has requested the "ooh-ooh" song, which for those of you not in the know, is Sugarland's "All I Want to Do," which has a chorus of "ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh." This is the first song (other than the ABC song) that she has tried to sing along with and from time to time yells out certain words, like "anyway." I have been able to get Audrey to do just about anything I ask this week, as long as there is a promise of some Baby Vicks being rubbed on her afterward. I rub some on her chest, then she requests that some be put on her belly. After I put the cap back on the container, she says, "more Vicks, please." And, my favorite story of the week, involving her newly-honed catch-phrase:

The snow suits have come out several times in the last week and a half. On Wednesday, I started to bundle up in mine to take the trash out (yes, I'm that big of a wuss that I put my snowsuit on just to walk the garbage down the driveway). I opened the garage door to put on my boots and I hear Audrey (who has watched this whole procedure and probably thinks I'm about to do something like shovel the drive) yell, "Fareful, Mama!" Translation: Careful, Mama! I don't think a day has gone by since where she hasn't asked one of us to be careful. Hmm....wonder what word I use a lot?

We're looking forward to the weather warm up this weekend. We hope you have a great weekend wherever you are. And whatever you do, remember, be careful.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Anyone Can Make Chicken Noodle Soup

Yesterday, I woke up with a sore throat. Audrey has a cough and the sniffles. At lunchtime, I grabbed my stockpot and got to work on our first line of defense - chicken noodle soup. This is what I make when we are sick, or when I have that one random gigantic chicken breast left in the pack that seems like a ridiculously large serving. This recipe is not glamorous or complicated (and you could dress it up a hundred different ways), but it gets the job done. While it may sound crazy to start whipping out the cutting boards while you're sick to make your own soup, when I smell this brew coming together, I start to feel better right away. (And, I figure if I can stand up long enough to make my own soup, how sick can I be, right)? So here it is, the quick and dirty:

Anyone Can Make Chicken Noodle Soup:

One enormous skinless, boneless chicken breast/or 2 normal size
2 quarts chicken stock
2 large carrots
3 stalks celery*
1/2 large onion
1 c. egg noodles**
salt and pepper, to taste

Put the chicken and stock into a large stockpot and bring to a boil. Partially cover with a lid and let simmer for 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. While the chicken cooks, chop the carrots, celery, and onion into pieces. When the chicken is cooked through, use tongs to remove it from the stockpot. Let it cool a on a cutting board while using a strainer to skim any fat from the top of the chicken broth. Add the vegetables to the pot and return to a boil. Let simmer uncovered for 8 minutes, or until vegetables are soft. Meanwhile, trim the chicken breasts of fat and chop into bite-sized pieces. Return the chicken to the pot add noodles. Return to boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, or until pasta is done. Season with salt and pepper.

* Most "mirepoix" - fancy French word for the combination of carrots, celery, and onion used in nearly every French recipe for stew or soup - use an equal number of carrots and celery, but my family really likes celery, so there you go, adjust accordingly.

** I prefer egg noodles, but didn't have any yesterday, so I used rotini, instead. We also go a little heavy on the noodles right now adding 2 cups rather than one, because Audrey eats just the noodles and leaves the rest of the soup.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Soft and Fluffy

Soft and Fluffy: Outside:

Soft and Fluffy: Inside:

I sewed the final touches on this fleece for Audrey this morning. It is the Baby Wrap Jacket pattern by Katie Himmelberg out of "Stitch" magazine (the Winter 2008 edition). I used the fleece pictured below and another cream one for the binding, both in the "destined for Goodwill pile" as my fabric.

I love that the new fleece has a kimono-inspired look. I made it a little big in hopes that she'll be able to wear it next year as well, but I might have gone a little overboard on the sleeves. Oops. I have to admit, I didn't follow the pattern to the letter, but I think it turned out alright. Today, for snuggling inside while we wait for the temperature to go back up, well, for that I think it's just perfect.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Snow Day

The temperature has dropped again and the windows have been alive with snow all morning. The house, though sturdy, creaks with shifting snow on shingles and howling wind on siding. I am tempted to hunt down every blanket in the house, pile them in front of the fireplace, crawl under the stack and lie there until Spring. But I have a toddler who turns on the music and asks me to dance. So I dance and become warm. Even though we could make our own music, hearing songs that are not our own remind me that we are blessed to have power, because some are without.

The morning is whittled away, equal parts spent chasing and hugging. I am glad all the appointments were yesterday and that nothing is so important that it can't wait for another day, even two. We make soup and hot chocolate, and I am thankful that some things taste better with a side of snow. I laugh when Audrey tells me "Good job, eat it," and claps when I finish my food.

The snow has stopped, but it blows across the ground like shifting sand: a moving landscape. It covers our resting garden, which after working so hard for us this summer, deserves the break. Having reconciled that I don't have to go outside, that I can hide under a pile of blankets if I so choose, the earth made new in shades of white doesn't seem so bad. Especially, with this creative little one by my side who makes being cooped up feel, well, less cooped up. For now, the blankets are safely at bay, tucked in the closet as I wait to see what Audrey comes up with next. Peanut butter etch-n-sketch, anyone?

Monday, February 2, 2009

Down the Rabbit Hole

This year, rather than buying the typical birthday gift, I opted for throwing Jason an "experience birthday weekend," instead. The weekend started out with dinner for two at a swanky restaurant downtown where we like to celebrate very special occasions - usually our anniversary. We were able to squeeze our reservation in right before the end of Indy's Devour Downtown Winterfest, which meant taking advantage of high-class food at a much lower price tag. (For those in the Indy area who missed the Winterfest, check out the Summer Devour Downtown in June where premier restaurants downtown offer special $30 menus).

Of course, Jason insisted that there wasn't anything really special about him turning 32. After all, it's not as if he just turned 30. I beg to differ. Turning 32 means you've kicked the pants off of turning 30 - twice! But regardless of your stance on the numbers game, one thing is certain, a night worth remembering is a night worth celebrating, indeed. And a night where you find some unexpected whimsy? Even better.

These jewel-toned hanging lanterns made from really heavy materials, like velvet, remind me of the Mad-Hatter and Alice in Wonderland. Maybe it's the hatbox shape. I love the varied shapes, the staggered lengths, and that they seemed just out of place enough to catch my eye, but somehow just right. (Sorry for the poor picture quality. We were trying to snap pictures of them in the few moments when tables were empty. Velvety hanging lanterns: quite whimsical. Interrupting someone's nice dinner with your flashbulb: uh...not so whimsical.)

The lanterns setting the tone, the rest of the evening felt as if I had slipped out of my everyday and down into the rabbit hole where even the most common of things seems unique. A miniature tart for one (or two),

a sink and back splash that serve as art,

a rug (and back splash) that match my shoes,

and some beads from the table to remind me that it wasn't all a dream.

But my favorite part of the evening? The uninterrupted conversation inspired by our surroundings. We discussed our top three dining experiences: the first time we ate at a place like this (on someone else's dime as an award for Jason's job performance seven years ago) acting as if we were two kids just handed the master keys to FAO Schwartz; the anniversary dinner where we opened an envelope (and a package containing a pink dress wrapped up by a sales associate in our absence) announcing that we were having a girl; and the time we rented a moped to drive to dinner while at Key West and left the restaurant with two to-go boxes containing desserts tucked into the compartment under the seat while we toured the island.

Our talk gradually came around to how special all those evenings, and the one we were spending, were. How, perhaps, the most special thing about them is that they don't happen every day. I left, warmed by the restaurant and the time spent together, but warmed also knowing that once we stepped outside, we were heading back to our very common life.