Walk, Walk, Fashion Baby

Work it, move that thing, crazy!

This week I've started taking Shae to school in the morning, and sometimes she wants me to take pictures of her outfits. I don't know why, because I pick out most of her clothes and do her hair, but she's been very proud of how she dresses anyway, and she's been "posing" for me.

None of these clothes are new, by the way, but she says she feels "just like a princess." I don't get it either.


It's not really anything special -- she did wear a dress this week, yesterday, a really cute mod-style Children's Place number left over from last year, but she didn't want me to take a picture of that. Who knows why.


Apparently this Nashville Zoo shirt from when we went to Tennessee for a wedding in 2008 is her "very favorite." I don't know why. Maybe because it's yellow?


Today she was all excited about her outfit because it was raining and I had her wear her rain boots. Because what else are rain boots for?

I guess since this is going to be a daily thing now, I should start taking pictures with the good camera. Also, I should stop eating Triscuits, but that's a different problem. (And not a lot, so I'm not TOTALLY cheating on my diet, just "flirting" a little bit.)


Terms and Conditions

Shae will be 3½ this week, and recently we decided that it was time for her to start doing some chores so she could get an allowance.

I'm not really sure why we decided to give her an allowance -- it just seemed like a good idea at the time, a way to teach her responsibility and cause-and-effect. If she does X number of pre-determined things, she'd get $1. We made up a little chart and everything. Nothing too crazy on there, mostly stuff she should be doing anyway: putting her dirty dishes in the sink, putting her dirty clothes in the hamper, putting away her toys and books before bedtime, that kind of thing. Every time she does one of her "chores," she gets a sticker on the chart, and when she gets 15 stickers, she earns a dollar for her piggy bank.

This kid is robbing me blind.

She never really showed much of an interest in following directions before -- dinnertime and bedtime in particular have always been a struggle. After 6:00 PM she seems to lose focus, gets a touch rowdy and unruly, starts dithering around. Now she wants to do these things, all day, all the time. She cleans her plate at supper time almost without fail so she can drop her cup and plate in the sink. I think she wants to make sure we hear her doing what she's supposed to, so we have no excuse to keep from giving her that precious blue dot.

And she's started haggling over the terms and conditions.

We have some leeway to withhold stickers from her, of course, because we're the parents and all. If she puts her clothes in the laundry at the end of the day, but she fusses over brushing her teeth or saying her prayers, we threaten: Listen, or no sticker. That snaps her back to attention. But she doesn't really understand what we mean by "Put Dishes In The Sink After Every Meal." She wants a sticker after breakfast, lunch, AND dinner. She wants to change her clothes three times a day and drop her "dirty" things in the laundry.

She's being a stickler, a rules lawyer.

And we figured that we would only manage compliance two or maybe three times a day, but she is right on top of her chores now. It doesn't really help our wallets that we have a new schedule and we're taking her to school a little earlier in the morning, so now she's still asleep when her alarm goes off.

Still, even if it's going to end up costing me $3 a week instead of just the $1 I was expecting, I'm still glad we decided to do this. For one thing, we're practicing counting every day -- she goes into the kitchen and counts off the little blue dots on her chart. She's trying to count backwards from 15 to determine how many more stickers she needs to get her money. As we get closer to the holidays, and she gets into a more consistent routine of functioning in "polite society," we can add some more chores and change the payout table.

Hey, we're the parents, and we're allowed to change the rules if we want.


Some Kind of Metaphor, Maybe

I haven't had much to say in the past few days, and I apologize. Not that anyone thought I was, but I'm not going anywhere -- just trying to get used to our new schedule. My husband started his new job yesterday -- yippee! -- but after 16 months of him being unemployed, we had gotten ourselves into a routine, and right now I'm having trouble adjusting to a new one.

I'm also -- and this is going to sound weird -- feeling a little threatened right now. While he was out of work I was the breadwinner and also the "master scheduler," and now both of these positions are in flux. I don't entirely mind, but I never before realized (or at least never before admitted) how much of a control freak I am. And nothing rattles a "controlist" like wrangling a 3-year-old for school.

Nothing is changing, but at the same time everything is, and it's an adjustment. Exciting and promising, but also a little bit scary, and one that we need to work through. Not major -- dear Lord, my problems are nothing compared to some people's, and I know it -- but still unsettling. We'll get there in time; this, too, shall pass.

Also: I'm on my fourth consecutive day of this tummyache, and I burnt a pot of chili last night, for the first time ever. I've been making chili for 15 years, and this the first time I can recall ever burning it. I've changed the recipe for better and worse, made it without some ingredients and added others and shuffled things up, but I've never burned it. It's still edible -- I've actually gotten a lot of compliments on it, on the unexpected smoky flavor, that isn't really supposed to be there -- but its unwarranted success has me off-kilter.

Which is probably some kind of metaphor or something, maybe. I'm trying to work with mistakes that have been made, adjusting the game plan on the fly, spinning straw into gold as well as I am able, along with other ridiculous idioms that may or may not work in this particular context. Still me, but different, learning from what has happened and trying to prepare for what is yet to come. Feeling the burn, but not letting it ruin everything else.

Or something.


Presenting the Pirate Princess of Pottstown Port

Shae is going to be a pirate for Halloween. This is all my doing; I wanted her to be something fun for trick-or-treat, but I also wanted her to be something that had a certain degree of power along with the feminine charm. Also: badassery. And inflatable swords.

Pirate Pose

To properly get Shae into character -- oh, yes, I am a "method Mom" -- we've been watching a lot of Pirates of the Caribbean in our house. The first and second movies, anyway. We haven't seen the third one yet, but we have the trilogy on Blu-Ray and I'm pretty sure we'll be getting in a lot of viewings. Because Mommy? Loves her some Orlando Bloom AND some Johnny Depp.

Pirate Queen

At some point I'm going to need to figure out what to do with her hair, so it will fit under her tricorn hat. Somewhere in my house is a multi-color scarf that I got from my husband's grandmother, but I can't find it. To practice, I found this wrap that I got for some trip to somewhere. It's ... very big. But a lot of fun to tie around Shae's head.

Pirate Fierce

I'm also going to have to start working on her skirt soon, or it will never be finished, because Mommy is a terrible sewer to begin with, and I have to hand-sew the whole thing. Probably more than once, because I don't anticipate that it will work out as expected the first time around.

Pirate Princess

In the meantime, we'll keep watching Captain Sparrow to learn how to act like a pirate. And we'll probably throw in a little SpongeBob, just because.


Saturday in the Park

While we were at the Forks fair over the weekend, we also snuck over to the playground for a little while. Basically because if we didn't, we would have never heard the end of it.


I will take this opportunity to admit here that I am totally "THAT" parent, the one who doesn't let her kid go on every ride at the playground, because I sense danger -- on this particular case, it took the form of tweens and young teens, roaming the park with no apparent parental supervision.


Know what I don't understand? How 12-ish-year-olds can walk and chew gum and talk and text and have fights with their boyfriends/girlfriends and be mean to little kids, all at the same time. Is this a specific set of life skills that my daughter is going to learn someday?

Baby Swing

Also: we are now officially too big for the baby swings, but I will never understand why playgrounds don't have a sort of intermediate swing, one that is not quite so big and not quite so far off the ground. Didn't they used to? I used to go on the swings. What are today's 3-to-6-year-olds supposed to do at the park when their mothers won't let them go on the merry-go-round?


I mean, she still had fun in the baby swing, but I caught her more than once watching the bigger kids on their bigger swings. She totally wants in on that action.

Metal Slide

And I think we found the one sliding board in the world that she doesn't want to go on -- one of those shiny metal numbers, the kind they had when I was little, on the playgrounds that had asphalt and blacktop under the monkey bars, instead of mulch and shredded rubber and bouncy protective stuff.


Lions and Tigers and Bears (LOLwut?)

So, riddle me this.

If it didn't say "Bears" right at the top of this drawing, would you have been able to figure out what this was?

Yeah, me either.


Goin' Commando (Pre-K Style)

If ever there comes a time that aliens (not Yoda, but, you know, gross aliens) (not Stitch either) invade from Mars or wherever (like, Hoth, where the Wampa lives and eats fresh steaming tauntaun for breakfast) (forgive me, we've been watching "Star Wars" again, because WE ARE AWESOME RAWR!) and the invading alien armies decide to put down a protective layer of moon bounce materials ...

Jurassic Park 1
Jurassic Park 2
Jurassic Park 3
Jurassic Park 4
Jurassic Park 5

... Special Secret Super-Soldier Shae is ON THE CASE, and she has us covered.


Head Over Feet

Know what else you can do when you're three years old? Ride around your grandparents' backyard on your bicycle while still in your pajamas.


I wish I were three years old again.


Out of Our Tree

Because what is the point of being three years old if you can't spend a glorious Saturday morning climbing a tree in your pajamas?


With your Patti-the-Platypus Beanie Baby, of course.


Fly Me To The Moon

Today is my cousin's wedding anniversary. I didn't remember it until she asked me if I had any pictures; for some reason I have been thinking her anniversary was in April all this time -- I must have been conflating her birthday and my anniversary and jumbling them up for the last eight years.


Also, in my own defense, I was kind of tanked at her reception. Not drunk and disorderly, not exactly, but I don't remember much except that one of my former co-horts from my high school swim team was a bartender that day, and she was making me all kinds of fancy delicious drinks that came with maraschino cherries and whose names ended in "-tini," and there was a big ol' wheel of brie cheese baked in puff pastry, and the food was good. Damn good. And apparently I had a rough time in the ladies' room, and had to get an assist. (That part I don't remember, but I've had anecdotal evidence since.)

Fun Times

I wish I could say these pictures brought back memories, but unfortunately they don't. That's the trouble with a good bartender, I suppose. You look at pictures of that special day when you're a decade removed from it and you're all, "The HELL?" I still have the dress I wore, though. Doesn't fit any more -- was too small, now it's too big, and either way it was never particularly in style anyway -- but I still have it.

Tina's Wedding

Still have the husband, though. That one's a keeper. Even though it appears on this particular occasion that he did not consent to coordinating his tie to my outfit. The bastard.

Daddy & Me

I always dance with my Daddy at weddings when we're both in attendance, even now that we're both basically old people. It's like a rule, dating back to middle school or so, when I danced with him to "Angel" by Aerosmith when one of his siblings got married. Don't ask me who, because I don't remember that, either.

Jaime & Joe

It would be almost three years later when these two crazy kids would up and get hitched. That was another kick-ass wedding. But boy oh boy, are they kids here. My sister can't be older than 25 here, if she was even that old (if I did the math correctly, I was 28, basically a baby myself still).

... Anyway, I kind of lost the plot here. (Go figure.) One of the things that I DO remember about Tina & Sam's wedding was their first dance: "Fly Me To The Moon," by Frank Sinatra. It was something really, really, once-in-a-lifetime special. It's such a great song to begin with, one of my all-time favorites, and on top of it all, they did a fancy little choreographed ballroom dance number, and it was SPECTACULAR. The whole room filled to overflowing with joy, and for a few short minutes nothing in the world existed but those two, and the music, and their love, and it was nothing short of awesome. Really and truly.

All of this is a long way of saying: Happy Anniversary, you guys. I hope you continue to be as happy now as you were then, and I hope you always are. You're awesome, and your family is awesome, and even though I ate my weight in maraschino cherries that day and therefore don't remember everything quite as clearly as maybe I should (although I assure you, I tipped the bartender well), I am glad I got to be part of that day, and that I still get to be part of your lives, even if it's across the miles over coaxial cable.


In other words: I love you.


Islands in the Stream

When I look back at pictures of my kid from this summer, a few thoughts make themselves particularly loud in my brain.

Noodle 1

This kid was made for the pool. I don't know if she's ever going to be a competitive swimmer, another Janet Evans or Dara Torres or Michael Phelps or Mark Spitz, but this is a kid who will always be at her very best when she is in the water. Her signature fragrance, for all of her life, will always contain a hint of chlorine. Eau de l'eau, if you will.

Noodle 2

I am very excited to get her into swimming lessons this fall and winter -- maybe more than she is, even -- because by this time next year, she will be swimming by herself. She really, really wants to swim on her own, and I think that watching her learn to do that, to finally ditch the bubble for good and just go, will be tremendously satisfying.

Noodle 3

Better call the Y and find out if I will be allowed to observe lessons, and if they'll let me take pictures. If not, I better learn pretty quick how to get good pictures without a flash. Because I have confidence that she'll be able to swim a full lap by Christmas, and when she does, I want to be able to capture every stroke. This might be a bigger deal to me than her first steps.

Noodle 4

Whenever we start looking for a new house -- which won't be any time soon, but then again it might not be too long, since she starts kindergarten in just two years -- we'd better look for a place with a pool. Perhaps on a nice tropical island somewhere, where we can swim all year long.

Which reminds me, I'd better play the lottery this week.



I've been quiet the last few days, and I'm sorry, but it's been a big roller coaster and I just can't process everything. It's too much, too overwhelming. I really try not to be a whiner, and I really try not to use this blog as free therapy, but sometimes you need a brain dump, you know? And this is one of those times.

The Good News:
My husband finally found a job. After 17 months and a huge deal of wondering and worrying and kind of aimless wandering in the wilderness, and I don't even know how many interviews at I don't even know how many places, he finally found a job. He starts on the 27th. I am happy for him, and excited, but more than anything, I am relieved. We've made do on his unemployment and my paycheck, and we've been as smart and as frugal as we could so we haven't been hurting as much as so many other people have been, so the money was never really the issue. But already I can sense a change in my husband, a subtle and slight regaining of his confidence, and I glad he's getting his groove back, so to speak. I think the job is a restart for him, a basically entry-level job in his field, especially considering his experience, but I also think it's going to be a great opportunity for him, and he's going to be getting out of the house again, which is more fantastic than I can possibly tell you.

The Bad News:
Somebody stole the bistro table and chairs off our front porch overnight. I have absolutely zero idea why anybody would want it -- it's just some cheap little metal set from Wal-Mart that we got ten years ago -- but sometime between my last cigarette yesterday and my first cigarette this morning, someone took our stuff. All things considered, it's no big deal; nobody was hurt, nothing major was taken, nobody broke into our house or keyed our cars or anything like that. It's more of an annoyance than anything else, and I felt like a major tool having to call the police first thing in the morning. The cops were here before it was even fully light out. It's just -- somebody stole our stuff, you know? I would have sold it for next to nothing.

The Worse News:
We were at my parents' for a yard sale today (made $50 selling my kid's outgrown clothes, whoo!) and while we were there my uncle wandered off. My great-uncle, actually, my grandfather's sister's husband. He's 81 and has Alzheimer's, and he's staying at my parents' with his daughter while his wife, my great-aunt, is in the hospital under psychiatric evaluation. Her diagnosis is Lewy body dementia, which I've never head of before now, and I am not sure about the prognosis but I am not sure it's good. Anyway, sometime around lunchtime, my uncle went out for a walk and ... never came back. He was gone for more than hour, and we had four people out looking for him at one point. We called the police and they found him one township and about 5 miles away. Thankfully some nice lady saw him wandering around, lost and confused, and she brought him inside and gave him water and called the police herself. Apparently he decided that he was going to walk to the hospital to visit his wife. God bless his heart. I can't imagine how upsetting all of this must be for both of them. My husband's grandfather was right: getting old ain't for sissies.

The Worst News Of All:
The closed my grandparents' pool today, and we were not expecting it. We thought we had until next weekend. We packed our suits and everything, and were planning to go swimming this afternoon after the yard sale was over. I didn't even get to stick my feet in the water one last time. All day I was feeling this weird, vague sadness about the whole thing, and I just now realized why it bothers me so much: we might not get to go in that pool again. Ever again. I've been swimming in that pool for like 25 years, and last weekend might have been the last time I got a chance to do that. My grandparents are getting older every day, and their health is getting worse, and every time I see them, it might be for the last time. Probably I shouldn't say that, but the facts are what they are. They are old, and they are ill, and there is no way to know how much time they have left. I am not prepared for this, for what this means. I don't have many pictures of Shae with my grandparents, and we forgot the camera today. What if next weekend ... I don't want to think about it, and I know I have to, and I just can't. Right now I have pictures in my photostream that are ready to be posted, and I don't want to put them up, because I can't bear the thought that those could be the last pictures of my daughter in that pool. It's not just the pool, of course, but that is the only concrete thing I can wrap my head around. The pool might not be opened next summer, because. Because. Because of things that are entirely possible but just too horrible to think about. And now, after only a couple of nights of really relaxed sleep in 17 months (see: "The Good News"), I am going to go back to not sleeping at all again, and I am just so tired. I am an hour away, I only see my family for one day on the weekends, it already makes me crazy because I feel like there is more that needs to be done and I just can't do it, and I feel so guilty all the time, and ... I just can't. I'm exhausted. I'm spent. And tomorrow it will start all over again.


All Points Bulletin

We interrupt our coverage of the last few pool-noodle-infused days of summer to bring you this urgent back-to-school-time bulletin.

Labor Day 2010

Who is this mysterious young woman, and what has she done with my baby girl? Bring her back, or I'm selling her stuff.

Also: PUMPKINS? Already? I am not ready for the fall, not entirely -- although I have plans for this autumn that I better get working on. But still. I see pumpkins and I think of delicious, delicious pie and then I start feeling cold and old down to my bones and I just can't deal with it, okay?


Chicken Noodle-O's

We added a new weapon to our Arsenal of Awesomesauce, just in time for the end of the summer: pool noodles. Which, of course, Shae LOVES.


One of our plethora or Labor Day picnics was at one of my aunt's, and we forgot to take the bubble. Fortunately there were noodles. Which, I may have mentioned, Shae LOVES.

Noodle Soup

We quick ran out and got some for my grandmother's pool, because there is another weekend left, and BY GOD, we are going to have all the fun we can stand.


I do not anticipate any problems there. Hell or high water, if that cover is off, Shae will be swimming. She went in the ocean even when it was 57°F.

Invisible Noodle

And now I have one more thing to look forward to for NEXT summer.


Labor Dabor

Be back in a bit -- we're busy squeezing the last little bit of fun out of the summer.

Summer Death Grip

See you tomorrow, if I survive this last day.


Vroom Vroom VROOM!

I basically double-dog-dare you to look at these pictures and not go "Vroom! Vroom!" in your head.

Vroom Vroom
Vroom Vroom Vroom

No, wait ... I TRIPLE-dog-dare you. Yeah, that's what I thought. RAWR!



Shae loves the diving board, so I have absolutely no idea why she acted so scared at Keyth & Jamie's party -- maybe she thought the water was too cold?

Diving Board
On the Edge

Scared or cold or not, she's going off the board at Uncle Quack's this weekend, because summer is almost over. I might try to teach her to do a flip, just because it will be a long time before she gets another chance.

No, I'm not looking forward to the fall and winter at all.