Awesome Side-of-the-Road Find

September 30, 2008

Hurrah! By some miracle of the Junk Gods, I pretty much found exactly what I’ve been looking for, for free, on the side of the road. We were on our way back from getting some Freecycled kale (kale! who knew people Freecycled kale? apparently there is such a thing as a free lunch), and saw a whole line of school desks on the side of the road, in front of an old school. I have been stopping by Goodwill about twice a week looking for something to work as an art table in the boys’ room, and lo, here were about ten art tables (in a sense), for free. I got four, thinking I can configure them into a square. And I love that they come with the built-in storage, since what’s an art table without space for paper and markers? They looked much better after I hosed them off, and they do need a scrubbing with some steel wool, and maybe some paint on the legs if I get really ambitious. You can see that Eli helped himself to two little chairs, which we do probably need in case a friend comes over. Now maybe our dining room table will be a lot easier to clear every night.

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CATEGORIES: housekeeping, Parenting

Children's Book of the Week: Cat Up a Tree

September 29, 2008

Cat Up a Tree by John and Ann Hassett
Cat Up a Tree is one of the books in the Raising Readers compendium we got at Henry’s five-year doctor’s appointment. I love the illustrations, and we all like the story. Nana Quimby keeps finding more and more cats up a tree, and calls every city service agency (post office, library, city hall, police department) but no one will help her get the cats out of the tree, and they all follow up with pretty funny “call back if…” statements (e.g., the post office says to call back if the cats want to send a postcard and need to buy a stamp). Finally there are 35 cats up the tree, and Nana Quimby is so annoyed with the lack of help she’s gotten that she throws the telephone out the window – I love that it’s unclear (to me, at least) whether she’s consciously taking matters into her own hands, or whether she’s just so pissed off she angrily throws the phone. At any rate, she saves the day, city hall comes calling, and she blows them off, just like they did to her. It’s a satisfying and quick read, with the good kind of pictures that you see more in with subsequent readings (there is a great demand for cheese in Nana Quimby’s town, for instance).

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Great Balls of Peanuts

September 28, 2008

One of our new favorite snacks is peanut butter balls. I got the idea from a recipe in Wondertime; I think they called them Power Balls. The original recipe called for chocolate chips, and while I am always trying to up my chocolate intake, I want to keep it out of the boys, so I don’t add them. Stir together one cup of peanut butter and one cup or honey (or less – I’ve been trying to reduce the honey so it’s less sweet, and I’ve been able to make it work with 3/4 of a cup). Stir in three cups of oats, a few tablespoons of ground flax seed, and some raisins. Roll them into balls (wet hands help). If you put them in the fridge then they’ll dry out a bit and get less sticky. I just keep a big bowl of these in the fridge and the boys (and Dave and I) eat them all day. Protein + fiber + omega + a little sweetness so you think you’re getting a treat = a winner. If I put them in Henry’s lunch (but heavens no not in his snack) then I know he’ll eat something.

CATEGORIES: Food
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thirty second post

September 27, 2008

Henry has decided that he wants pants with pictures on them. I got him some guitar-print pants, but then he informed me he wanted pants where “things were happening in the pictures.” Does anyone have any ideas that don’t involve me learning to sew? Do they make toile pants for boys?

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CATEGORIES: Henry, thirty second post
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Etsy: Paper Sparrow

September 27, 2008

There are some artists on Etsy who do things that I love so much that I feel an unreasonable urge to buy everything they’re making. Maybe some people would look at their stuff and not care about it one whit, and I’m sure there are artists on Etsy who do nothing for me but who make someone else’s heart sing. Anyway, I love love love the things Paper Sparrow makes. I have a bit of a bird fetish, and she has a million beautiful bird prints. I love the loopy lines, the happy little flowery details, the wallpaper backgrounds, all of it. I got two little prints and two bird cards during a sale she recently had, and they’re beautiful.

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CATEGORIES: etsy
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thirty second post

September 26, 2008

Things Eli said today, all while he was in a different room than I was in:

  • There’s something crawling!
  • I’m all blue!
  • Look! A huge spider!
  • I don’t have to pee.

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CATEGORIES: Eli, thirty second post
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Lost Cup Reunited with Owners, Film at 11

September 26, 2008

We went to the Cumberland County Fair last Sunday, and on the way back from watching the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Musical Ride (which was fun but they kept pushing how great it was to join the RCMP, and Dave and I kept wondering: Don’t you have to be CANADIAN?), we found a Klean Kanteen bottle in the grass, nestled in a little Built NY cup holder. Here was someone’s cup system, pretty similar to ours, lost and abandoned and looking so sad lying alone in the field (note to self: stop anthropomorphizing water bottles). Plus I knew it was like a $30 system lost there. I picked it up and brought it home (the long lost college kid in me still thinks, “Free stuff!” when I find something, but the moralist in me wants to find it a good home, and is somehow thinking that we’ll give this water bottle a good home) (ok, really need to stop considering feelings of things made of stainless steel).

This is all a very long-winded way of saying that I brought it home and took it out of the holder, and the cup had a name and phone number written on it in permanent marker. Tra la! So I called the number and the people were psyched that their expensive cup system wasn’t lost, and came over to pick it up. They thanked me profusely, and I thanked THEM profusely for giving me the idea of writing our name and number in permanent marker on all our stainless steel cups. And I felt glad to return the kitten water bottle to its rightful home.

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CATEGORIES: housekeeping
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I get the creepy feeling someone's watching me.

September 26, 2008

One of the hardest things about parenting is the constant observation. My 30s are really all about me having essentially no idea who I am and trying to figure out who I am, trying to reconcile the 20s me with some imaginary future responsible adult me. Why this coincides with parenthood I have no idea. But I do think a journey of self discovery has got to be easier without a 2-year-old asking, “What, Mommy? What happened? Why did you slam on the brakes?” or “But why did you hit your toe on the chair leg?” or “Why are you trying on all your pants to see if any of them fit today?”

The other day Dave took the boys to the beach, so I took advantage of being almost alone to blitz clean the house (yes, that’s right, me time now means all I want to do is clean – sometimes the future adult responsible me comes to visit). A sweet 4-year-old girl from the roving neighborhood posse chose that time to want to play with Henry. When I told her he wasn’t home, she proceeded to stand on my front stoop and stare into my house. I continued on my cleaning flurry, but it certainly wasn’t helped by this little observer elf standing at my door, occasionally calling out my name as I ran by with a load of laundry (“No, honey, Henry’s not back yet, you’re standing right there on the stoop, don’t you think you’d see him if he walked in?”). I know she’s only 4 and doesn’t understand that this was my only time all week in my own head but for pete’s sake LEAVE ME ALONE. Of course I didn’t say any of this but just let it fester inside until she inexplicably decided to ring my doorbell and run away which caused me to do my best unintentional impression of an insane angry lady, running out the door and yelling, “Don’t do that! It’s not funny! You may think Ding Dong Dash is funny, but it’s not!” (Yes, I’m considering the possibility that I could do the impression of the angry lady because I am the angry lady.) But really, why can’t she go watch her own mother for a change?

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CATEGORIES: housekeeping, Parenting

Doctor, there's a whining noise in my ear.

September 25, 2008

Today was a day when Henry whined about nothing for 20 minutes, and then at Minute 19 Eli would start whining, and back and forth so it was this completely seamless whine. It was a lot of whining about stuff that didn’t make any sense to me, like Henry seriously sitting on the counter with tears in his eyes because the “water is going away” in his oatmeal. “Yes, honey, that’s because it’s oatmeal. That’s what happens – the oats absorb the water and make oatmeal!” Henry: “Now the water’s! all! gone!” “Yes, honey, that means it’s DONE! Now it’s OATMEAL! YAY!” Then some sobbing from Henry. (They’ve slept enough, but were probably hungry, and Dave’s out of town, which always makes them tweaky.)

From 10 to 11 Eli whined constantly and I have no idea what he was saying. I kept trying to calmly say, “I can’t understand you when you whine” and he kept at it. I think he was actually saying something about how he can’t talk any other way. Then Dave called, and of course Unavailable On-the-Phone Mom totally pushed him over the edge, and he started shrieking, finally culminating in him starting to pummel me, which apparently made him feel much better because then he started to laugh hysterically. Kids are such noxious balls of emotion sometimes I don’t know whether to run, hug them, or spray them with cleanser.

So I did what any self-respecting mom would do. I said, “Do you want a brownie?” and after a skeptical, “What’d you say?” he heartily accepted and he ate it happily and I got some more school work done and now he’s lying happily on the rug listening to music and playing with his diggers.

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CATEGORIES: Eli, Food, Henry
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Rocket ship to organization

September 25, 2008

Thank you, Target, for solving one of my more annoying organizing issues. I could not figure out what to do with the boys’ stuffed animals. It’s not like they have an outrageous number of them, but I could never figure out where to put them. They usually ended up on their bed, where I would carefully (why do I bother to do anything carefully?) arrange them, and they would all give up the ship and leap into the crack between the bed and the wall. I’d usually leave them there because, frankly, at least they were neatly shoved in the crack and weren’t making a giant mess in the center of the room like everything else does. But the boys do play with their animals a lot, and would often want one particular animal that was shoved way down deep on sedimentary layer #1. And really it wasn’t much of a system. I Googled for “stuffed animal storage systems” and didn’t really see anything that would work. It was a lot of nets that hung from the ceiling and would hold five bears, or giant bins (or huge-ass frog furniture things) (on second look I see that it’s not a frog but just a big green fuzzy thing, the giant bin is a frog, however) that would take up lots of floor space and which Henry and Eli would surely dump out (they’re big on dumping) and never, ever put away.

And then! Behold! Target! While wandering through the store yesterday with my usual random and disparate list, I came upon this rocket ship stuffed animal holder (I can’t find it on the website, you’ll just have to go to the store yourself if you want one – it was with the stuffed animals in the toy section). It had everything I wanted: hangs on the wall so it doesn’t take up floor space, is not dumpable, is cute (it kind of looks like something Haba would make and sell for $50), and the boys actually like putting their stuffed animals in it, because they can pretend they’re all on the way to the moon. And it only cost $9.99 (I had actually looked around our house for a solution because I’m trying not to buy things like this, but it was totally $9.99 well spent; I never would have been able to assemble anything that worked as well from our house castoffs).

On another Target note, while we were there, Zuzu started to cry and I wanted to nurse her. It suddenly occurred to me that there is absolutely no place to sit down in Target (except I guess for the dressing room?). I finally found a place in a display of a fake nursery. We climbed up on the little pedestal and I nursed her in the display glider. It’s nice they had it on display because it really wasn’t very comfortable and it would be good to know that before buying (though I suppose it would have been more comfortable if someone had finished assembling it – it was missing an arm, which was lying on the floor next to it). No one seemed to care that I was putting myself on display while breastfeeding, but then at 10 a.m. on a Wednesday every other single person in Target is a mother with a 2-year-old and an infant, so they were probably just annoyed that I situated myself in the pretend nursery before they did.

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CATEGORIES: housekeeping
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