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  • I recently had an epiphany: While I really enjoy being active – walking, even on a treadmill – I really dislike exercising. I’m fine if the exercise is inherent in the activity, but I don’t like to purposefully encourage sweating and ragged breathing. Eh. Know thyself, right?
  • Carla is starting to lose the last remaining baby vernacular. She can now say “computer” correctly, rather than calling it a “com-POO-tuh” like a tiny Austrian. I am holding on very tightly to “lellow” instead of “yellow” and “collection” instead of “reflection.”
  • My in-laws donated a Crate and Barrel outdoor loveseat to us. It’s teak and sturdy and fits neatly on our back porch. But there’s no cushion and I cannot for the life of me find a cushion for it. The sizing is weird – leave it to Crate and Barrel to have custom sizes, right? – so none of the standard bench or loveseat cushions at Home Depot or Target or Bed Bath & Beyond will fit. Then I looked at Crate and Barrel for a replacement – they were having a sale – and the appropriate cushion would cost $500. On sale. I know we all have different categories of things we are willing to spend serious money on, and it turns out that an outdoor loveseat cushion is not one of mine.
  • I have made a career change, and I am LOVING it. I feel like I should acknowledge it here, but I don’t want to go into detail right now. So. That’s all.
  • My niece’s first birthday is next month, and I have no idea what to get her. Her parents always get Carla fun educational toys, so I suspect they might enjoy getting one of those… but they also live in a tiny apartment and I don’t want to send them anything that requires too much space. Clothes are out: not only does my niece get ALL of Carla’s hand-me-downs, but she also has the same grandmother that Carla does, which means she gets her own beautiful collection of clothing.
  • I just finished the third (and so far final) Cormoran Strike book by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling). I found all of them thoroughly enjoyable, but now I’m looking for the Next Great Mystery Series to start. I like Sue Grafton and Tana French and Kate Atkinson and Sophie Hannah. But I haven’t really found any other series that have the kind of writing and characters and types of crimes that I like.
  • So in the meantime, I have finally begun A Little Life, because I’ve heard it’s a life-changing work of fiction. But I’m very apprehensive about it, because I’ve heard that it’s devastating.
  • We have lived in this house for nearly five years, and we are FINALLY getting to finish the office. We’ve re-organized the furniture and gotten rid of a bunch of junk and now just need to clean out the closet (old computers and cellphones dating back to COLLEGE and assorted other tangentially-office-related detritus) and put up artwork. We’re keeping an eye out for coupons at Michael’s, so we can finally frame my husband’s degrees, and we’ll hang those as well (my mom framed my college degree; I don’t think I ever got a physical diploma from my grad school, seeing as I absconded to Europe instead of attending my graduation ceremony).
  • Speaking of junk: we had inherited three mattresses and two bedframes from my in-laws that we finally got rid of. Alongside a massive, defunct television set, a DVD player, and some other piece of stereo equipment that is no longer compatible with modern TVs. I felt TERRIBLE sending these things off to the junk guy, but our local Goodwill had no interest and I am not holding a garage sale.
  • Carla and I planted a bunch of seeds last week. We used one of those big seed starter kits and I let her pick out a bunch of vegetable seeds. We had fun poking holes in the seed starter stuff and dropping in a seed at a time. (I was stunned when I asked her what she wanted to plant next and she said “cilantro” because I don’t recall teaching her what cilantro is.) Most of the veggies are already sprouting (which seems a little creepy to me – it’s been A WEEK) and Carla is So Excited. The first sprouts that appeared were the green beans we planted, and so she is CONVINCED that we are growing a beanstalk to rival Jack’s. I keep trying to manage her expectations but…
  • This seems worth remarking on: I had been saving, on my DVR, the final episode of House since it aired in 2012. I never watched it, because I don’t like things ending. (We still have the Parks & Rec finale, unwatched, on the DVR as well.) But we were running out of space on the DVR (wonder why?) so I finally deleted it. If I haven’t watched it in four years, it is unlikely I ever will.

For the second time in recent memory, Carla woke up at 4:00 am last night and crawled into bed with me and my husband. She did not fall back to sleep, but stroked my back and hair in a nice but un-restful way until I finally scooped her up and put her back into her room. The whole time I was tucking her in, she was sobbing about how hungry she was.

And I wasn’t surprised! She barely ate anything for dinner last night. The other time she woke up in the middle of the night, hungry, she’d eaten nothing – literally not a single bite – of food. That time, I’d carried her down into the kitchen, refusing to turn on the lights, and plied her with a yogurt pouch and an applesauce pouch and then put her back to bed.

I am trying to be very zen about the eating thing. I tell myself that Carla eats a good breakfast and a good lunch (according to her teachers), so if she picks at dinner, it’s not a huge deal.

But it’s getting more difficult to feel okay about that plan, especially if her empty stomach is waking her up in the wee hours.

To add to the trouble, my normal “she’ll almost always eat this” go-to foods aren’t working that well anymore.

We typically cook a separate dinner for Carla. This was long a function of timing – she and I would arrive home at six, and I couldn’t get a proper dinner on the table quickly enough to stem the post-school crankiness and hunger. But it’s also a function of Carla’s out-and-out rejection of 90% of the foods my husband and I enjoy.

I have long been a picky eater – even the idea of certain textures and tastes turn my stomach – so I have a hard time forcing Carla to eat things she isn’t interested in. We’ve been trying to encourage tasting – one taste, and if you don’t like it, fine. But most of the time, she won’t even try something new. Won’t even LICK it. So I do plenty of offering – asparagus, zucchini, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, chicken, steak, hamburger, pork – but rarely get any interest. Sometimes I will put these things on her plate – especially if my husband and/or I are eating with her at the same time, so she can see us eating and enjoying them – but they inevitably go uneaten. Or worse, pushed off the plate onto the table or the floor. (We are working on that. Drives me batty.) And I HATE wasting food.

She also shares my dislike of foods mixed together – albeit to an extreme degree. (She will eat tacos, but only if they are deconstructed: meat in one pile, shell in another, tomatoes in another, sour cream somewhere else.) So chili and spaghetti with meat sauce and lasagna and soup and ravioli and casseroles etc. etc. are pretty much out.

So I fall back on these stand-bys:

  • Fish sticks
  • Meatballs
  • Chicken nuggets
  • Pierogis
  • Pizza
  • Noodles
  • Peanut butter and jelly
  • Yogurt
  • Taco meat
  • Any and all chips of any kind

On rare occasions, she will gobble up a piece of salmon or a bowl of chickpea curry. Some days, she will gulp down a bowl of green beans or broccoli. Noodles and rice are usually a good bet (although macaroni and cheese has been ignored a lot recently). She sometimes eats corn. She usually eats pickles (but never cucumbers – I get it; I’m the same) and sometimes baby carrots. She’s never met a berry she won’t eat by the truckload, and eats lots of other fruits – although she goes through phases with bananas, sometimes eating two a day, other times eating a bite and then maddeningly throwing the entire rest of it into the garbage before I can stop her. Cheese is a mystery – I can never tell when she’ll eat it or not; the same extends to grilled cheese sandwiches. She seems to eat hot dogs if I send them in her lunch, but won’t touch them at home. She used to LOVE yams, but hasn’t given them a second glance lately.

Driven by a desire to instill some sort of “well-rounded” eating habits, I offer her protein and veggies for every meal. (I don’t know how “breaded meats” fit into “well-rounded eating,” but we take what we can get.)

Now, though, Carla claims she is bored with these foods. And who can blame her! But I have, it turns out, no imagination when it comes to kid-friendly dinners. And I just don’t know if moving to a full-on “we all eat the same meal” will… work.

I’ve tried to google “kid-friendly foods” and have even looked on pinterest, but the number of options so overwhelms me that I find myself right back where I started, offering fish sticks that she used to devour but that now languish coldly on her plate.

My kind mother tells me, when I fret to her, that my cousin ate only noodles and butter for years and he turned out okay. So I know – I KNOW – it wouldn’t be the end of the world if she ate only peanut butter sandwiches for the rest of her childhood, but man. I don’t know if I have the stomach for it.

Favorite Mugs

Swistle did a post today on her favorite mugs. A post I found fascinating, and so I have followed suit and am posting about MY favorite mugs.

(Sidebar: I was JUST THINKING about writing a post about my favorite mug this morning! Because of a different Swistle post, about using the good stuff. Because I keep worrying that my favorite mug is nearing the end of its life, and yet I keep using it because I love it. NOT using it would keep it safe, but I wouldn’t be able to enjoy it.)

Back to the NEW Swistle-based topic.

My favorites are “favorites” based on two criteria: 1. Sentimentality and 2. Size.

Here is the line up, with “most favorite” on the far left and “regular mug for comparison” on the far right.

IMG_3239.jpg

Mug 1: This is my all-time favorite mug. Every time it is dirty, I feel a little pang of wishing I could use it. (The pang isn’t painful enough to prompt me to hand wash it, though.) It is my husband’s, if we’re being technical; everyone in his major at college got a mug like this. All of his classmates’ names appear on the back side of the mug. It’s fun to point out my husband’s name to my daughter. The mug holds about 2 and 1/8 cups of tea-with-milk. I like it because it reminds me of college and my husband, and meeting my husband. And plus there are the names of several old college friends on it, too. But I also like it because it holds AMPLE tea for beginning my day, and because it’s well-proportioned: the handle is a good size, the mug is nice and tall. Love it.

Mug 2: This is my next favorite mug because it has pictures of my daughter on it. When she was not even six months old. So tiny! Plus, my husband “made” the mug for me (via one of those upload-your-photos websites; he’s not a secret potter), which makes it additionally special. It holds only about 1 and 3/4 cups of tea-with-milk, but that’s adequate. The enamel? paint? glaze? of the mug is wearing away from the interior, which makes me a little concerned that I’m ingesting dangerous compounds each morning, but not concerned enough to retire the mug.

Mug 3: This is my next favorite mug because my husband got it for me for Christmas one year, and also because it’s HUGE. It holds nearly 2 and 1/2 cups of tea-with-milk. My one criticism is that it’s a little unweidly: the body of the mug is so big and squat and round that I feel slightly in danger of dropping it. And in fact I slosh tea out of this mug at a far greater rate than I do out of any other.

Mug 4: This is my backup mug. It holds about 1 and 3/4 cups of tea-with-milk, which is fine but not great. It’s a good proportion. But there’s nothing terribly sentimental about it for me. Once again, it technically belongs to my husband; it was his souvenir from Zurich. But he doesn’t use it so I do.

Mug 5: This is one of the mugs that goes with our everyday china. It holds about 1 and 1/4 cups of liquid. I NEVER use these mugs. My husband does, and so do guests when we (rarely) have them. But it’s a little ridiculous that we have TWELVE of them. Oh well.

I will be CRUSHED when Mug 1 and Mug 2 break or disintegrate. I love them more than seems natural, really.

The other day my mind was wandering from topic to topic as minds do, and somehow ended up back in summer of 2000 when I decided I was destined to become a lawyer and my mother (a lawyer) decided that I needed some intervention more data points. So she sent me to California to spend some time with my aunt and uncle (both lawyers) to get a sense of whether or not it was the right field for me.

While I was there – touring their offices and going to court with my aunt’s brother (uncle in-law?) – I stayed at my aunt and uncle’s beautiful house in Beverly Hills. The guest room turned out to serve double duty as a TV-watching room for my three cousins. I have no idea how old they were at the time; whatever ages are known for Peak Rambunctiousness. But I remember very clearly that it caused me a great deal of angst to have them eating snacks and jumping around on my bed.

I am a very private person with a strong sense of personal boundaries, not to mention an introvert who needs – NEEDS – time alone to recover and recharge. And being around virtual strangers all day, learning about The Law in It’s Various Forms (my aunt did some sort of real estate law, my uncle did tax law, my uncle-in-law did litigation – I think; it didn’t really stick; clearly The Law was not my jam), away from home/college/familiar territory and routines meant that I was in severe need of my own space. So trying to grab a few minutes alone in my room, only to be bombarded by three noisy humans clambering all over one another was not especially fun. Not to mention feeling like my sheets would be full of goldfish crumbs or whatever they were snacking on/throwing at each other. Blech.

That experience really defined for me one of my personal Key Principles of Hosting: that your guest should have his/her own space. If I have a guest over, I will not for any reason go into the guest room. This is simple, because our guest room really has no purpose outside of baby clothing repository clean laundry dumping ground Guest Room. On the rare occasions during which we have guests, I want them to feel like they truly have a place to call their own.

(Sidebar: Other people don’t feel this way, I acknowledge. I have been a guest in a home where the guest room has a Working Closet, and the hostess feels comfortable coming in to retrieve clothing from that closet whenever she needs to. Which I get! It is her house! But it still makes me uncomfortable. [However, I also come from a place of not wanting people to be in my bedroom EVER, and this woman is comfortable popping into my bedroom to look in the full-length mirror or to borrow my hairdryer from my personal bathroom without asking.] [There is a hairdryer IN THE GUEST BATHROOM!] [Also, many people BRING THEIR OWN HAIRDRYERS when they travel!!!] [People have different comfort levels and different boundaries and different expectations.] [My blood pressure is rising. Kittens. Birds bathing in puddles. Gentle rain. Babies sleeping with their rears in the air.])

The problem is that we have two bathrooms. I mean, this is great, right? One bathroom for me and my husband, one for our guest. But… the non-master bathroom is Carla’s bathroom.

When we have guests, I have tried to be conscious of the Shared Bathroom issue. Instead of leaving Carla’s foam letters and numbers all over the tub as we do on a normal night, I would put them away in the closet. But our guests were still sharing a bathroom with her.

And maybe that’s… not in line with my Hosting Philosophy? Maybe we should have Carla share OUR bathroom the next time guests stay here (which, at the rate we host people, could be in five years)?

I guess this question just popped out at me when I was thinking back with such displeasure at having to share my bedroom with my cousins. Have I been making guests feel uncomfortable by having them share a bathroom with Carla?

Of course, it probably depends a great deal on the guest. But I think if it were ME, staying at someone else’s house, I would want my own space.

This is why I plan to mainly stay at hotels. But the topic of hotels is a whole different post. (Sometimes it is not practical. At my parents’ house, for instance, where the nearest hotel is many miles away. Or at my in-laws’ house, where they have an entire separate WING for guests and the nearest hotel costs $500 a night.)

I would be very interested in how other people approach hosting and guesting. Where do you stow guests at your house? What’s the bathroom situation like? What kind of expectations do YOU have for your situation when you stay with someone else?

And I have Strong Feelings about other aspects of hosting/guesting, but for now I am trying to stick very closely to Issues of Personal Space.

Sigh. I feel like I should qualify things – like I need to say, “Of course, I know this all sounds spoiled and picky! And if someone is kind enough to open her home to me, I should be gracious and grateful for whatever the accommodations are!” And YES. Of COURSE. My dear friend Ilse has invited me and Carla and my husband to her house this summer, and we are going. But Ilse has no guest room, so we’d end up either displacing one of her daughters or on the floor of the living room, and there’s only one bathroom. That situation would make me so uncomfortable, it wouldn’t be worthwhile. So we already have our hotel BOOKED.

Anyway, what I am trying to say is that MY hosting/guesting philosophies are purely a result of MY personality. And I am DEEPLY INTERESTED in how other types of people see and handle the same kinds of situations.

Before today, I would have said without hesitation that a wad of Kleenex is the worst possible thing you can run through the washing machine.

Now, I know for a fact that a pull-up is much much MUCH much worse.

Shop Talk

Let’s say I have a Regular Pedicurist (RP). And let’s say that my RP recently had a baby, and was on maternity leave for awhile. Neither of these things is true.

So after being on maternity leave, RP is finally back in action, and I had an appointment. And right before we sat down to Pedicure It Up, we did some little catch-up chit chat. How’s the baby. How was maternity leave. How is it to be back at work. Blah blah.

And then she starts telling me about ANOTHER Pedicure Client who – gasp! – didn’t get a pedicure the entire time RP was out on leave. And – gasper! – didn’t even try to maintain her own toenails herself during that time! So when RP got in there to do her thing, the toenails were really long and the polish was chipped and worn away and there were callouses and ingrown things and other stuff about toes that I don’t know because this is all made up.

“I just couldn’t LIVE that way!” RP says, to me, her client, who is standing there with super long toenails in the same polish RP applied back before the baby.

Um.

I think we can agree that we KNOW – or if we don’t KNOW, we at least UNDERSTAND – that people need to vent about their work. And that service providers must certainly see things that are disturbing to them, and that they likely share their tales of horror with their spouses and best friends and perhaps their colleagues in the industry.

But shouldn’t we all still MAINTAIN the FAÇADE of there never being anything A Person Hasn’t Seen Before? Keep UP the PRETENSE that a service provider is totally unfazed by anything YOU could possibly throw at her?

Otherwise, I am never leaving my house.

Sock Crisis

Apparently my feet have recently sprouted thorns or something because I have had to throw away four pairs of socks in the past two weeks. Holes! In the toes! In the heel! Both!

I have a hard time finding socks as it is. I don’t particularly LIKE wearing socks, and do so as infrequently as possible. But as I live in a cold/snowy climate, I spend much of the winter months in the leggings + boots uniform. And that requires socks.

The socks I like are tall – mid- to upper-calf length. This length is difficult to find, it seems. I need a sock with some give; my calves are large and I don’t enjoy peeling my socks off at the end of the day to reveal deep gouges in my skin. I like something that’s not as thin as a stocking, but not as thick as ski sock. I prefer fun patterns, but I’d go with solid if The Right Socks existed. And they are SO hard to find!

The socks I have are from Target, I think – maybe some are from Amazon. I don’t know that I’ve had much luck elsewhere. Most places that I think of as Sock Carriers seem to stock “trouser socks,” which are upper ankle length and thin; I think they are for dress shoes.

I wish I could, like many of my colleagues, wear flats and go – apparently – sockless. But I find that SO uncomfortabls (the sockless part) that I end up searching for those little semi-sock thingamajigs that cover a sliver of toe and a sliver of heel and the bottom of your foot. But when I wear THOSE, I wind up constantly adjusting them, pulling them out from between my toes, or yanking them up over my heel, and – even though they are SUPPOSED to be invisible – they inevitably peek out around the rim of the shoe and look sloppy.

And, in any event, THEY DO NOT WORK WITH BOOTS. So I am back to seeking The Right Socks from… wherever they might reside.

Oh, and now I think I need to add to my List of Requirements, “doesn’t get holes.” Because I am really sick of throwing socks in the trash.

(It occurs to me that I should be DARNING the socks rather than tossing them. But I don’t know how to do that, and I am not going to learn, and it may be wasteful and lazy but my ongoing sock purchases are contributing to the economy so I am going to try to swallow my guilt.)

Anyway: where does one buy socks of the nature I am discussing? How does one prevent holes? Is this something I am fated to struggle with my entire sock-wearing life?

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