Tuesday, June 30, 2009

At least I fit in

I hit an all new low point in parenting this evening. Elizabeth and I took Ella to climbing practice, and we got there a little early. Ella wanted to show me how she could climb some routes, so I pulled Elizabeth out of her seat and wandered around the gym with her as we watched Ella climb. After about five minutes, I realized Elizabeth smelled poopy, so I checked her diaper and discovered a poonami. I told Ella that I was going to take Elizabeth to the car to change her and that I would be back to watch her climb some more.

When I got to the car, I put Elizabeth down in the back of the Suburban and realized that her diaper had really exploded. The whole front of my shirt was covered in poop, and I do mean covered. In addition, Elizabeth's jumper was filled with poop that had overflowed.

So I got us cleaned up as best I could with the mostly dried out wipes I had in the trunk and went inside to say good-bye to Ella. When I told her why we had to leave and showed her my shirt, she nearly fell over laughing.

The gym is in south Austin, and at that time of day, it takes at least 45 minutes to get to from our house in the central-ish part of town, so I headed to the closest store I could think of to buy a new shirt for me and a new jumper for Elizabeth - Walmart.

I called my mom as I was headed to the store, and she had a good laugh at my expense. This particular Walmart is fairly new, but it's still pretty dreary and grim, and the shoppers are always entertaining. I commented to my mom that I'd fit right in given my poop-covered shirt. I pondered taking Elizabeth's dirty jumper off her and having her just wear her diaper but decided that was a little too redneck for my taste.

My mom had the best comment, though. She said I'd probably be seen by some snooty Westlake woman who was there slumming, and she'd tell her friends about seeing a lady wearing a poop-covered shirt and say, "See! That's why I NEVER shop at Walmart. The trashiest people always shop there."

I made it through the store without a problem. I found new clothes plus a few other items, and nobody stared at me that I noticed. Although I did almost get hit in the head by a flying box of Advil that a woman had thrown at her husband in an unsuccessful attempt to get his attention.

See! The trashiest people always shop there..

Monday, June 29, 2009

Don't make me get married!

The girls are on a wedding kick these days. They've been holding lots of mock weddings between their American Girl Dolls and various other creatures. When my mom was here, the two of us had to sit through countless ceremonies officiated by a very giggly Ella.

The girls begged to use my camera to document the events, and I finally relented. These are the pictures I found.

First, Lily's doll Ginny married Henry-Bear. Henry at least looks pleased to be there.

Which is more than I can say for Mr. Scream. Doesn't he look like he's terrified at the thought of marrying Hermione? I laughed out loud when I saw this picture, as did my mom.

The girls got to go to their first real wedding this weekend with my mother-in-law. It was for the daughter of mil's hair dresser. Ella was bored, but Lily thought it was all very lovely.

Friday, June 26, 2009

I can see!

My new specs arrived today, just in time. I managed to snap my old ones apart again this morning. I didn't think I was going to be able to repair them for the third time, so I was relieved to find the package in this morning's mail.


Right now I'm suffering my usual buyer's remorse, which happens every time I buy new glasses. I spend a week dithering about whether I really like them, studying myself in the mirror and polling my family and friends about whether the glasses really look ok. This is why I wait three years between buying new frames.


My last three pairs of glasses have had black frames of some sort, but this time I decided to be daring and went with burgundy. I like the color, but I'm not sure about the shape. They're a bit wider than my old ones. Sigh.


The good thing is that I ordered them from Zenni Optical, and they were CHEAP. I got the frames and three sets of sun glass clips (I break them frequently), for less than $50, including shipping. I figure that if I'm not happy with the glasses after my week of dithering, I can always order another pair. Heck, I may order another pair anyway. I saw some funky retro style frames that I wasn't sure I'd want to wear every day, but I could get them as my "other" glasses.


The best part is that my prescription changed, and now I can really see again. It's so very nice to not have to squint to see the TV, or to drive at night.


(photograph by Lily)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Thank you for all of your comments and suggestions on chore time. It's nice to know I'm not the meanest mom in the world, despite what Ella might think, or that I am the only one going through this.

We did sticker and star charts when the girls were little, but Ella was the only one they worked on. She would do just about anything for a sticker. She's not quite so dumb gullible these days. I had decided on allowance as a reward because both girls have been asking for pocket money to spend on little items and books, and I figured they needed to earn their extra things. We make them split their allowance into spend/save/share banks. Perhaps in the future I can make them put a whole week's allowance into the save and share banks.

I laid down the law with the girls yesterday morning. I told them that I would be setting a 30-minute timer from now on when they have to clean their rooms. Anything that wasn't cleaned up when the timer went off would be taken away. I also told them that if they put up a fight today or tomorrow, I'd cancel tomorrow's playdates. I further threatened to tell their friends and their friends' moms why the playdate had been cancelled. Ella was mortified at the idea of anyone finding out that she was in trouble. Lily could have cared less, but she did get upset at the idea of losing playtime with her friend. Lily's quite the social butterfly.

I didn't want to take away art camp this week because the thing is so freaking expensive. That would be shooting myself in the wallet. And I don't feel I can take away Ella's rock climbing practices until after she goes to Nationals. Not letting her go would punish the team, and we don't want to do that.

After my lecture yesterday, the girls cleaned their room reasonably well and within the allotted time. There was a minor skirmish at one point when Ella didn't think Lily was doing enough, but since they didn't come running to me to tattle, I let it go. Once they finished, I thanked them for their work, and Ella retreated to her closet to pout. When she came out for lunch, she tried to glower and be the Angel of Gloom at the table, but then she got caught up in the conversation and forgot she was angry.

We'll see how long the cooperation lasts before I have to crack down again. But I am resolved to be Mean Mom about this.

This isn't working

As summer break approached, I sat the girls down and explained that we were going to set up a new system for our days to give us some structure. I told them that at 10:00 each day we'd have 30 minutes of chore time, and that when Campbell went down for his afternoon nap we'd have mandatory rest time for an hour. I also told them that as a reward for following this new system, they'd get an allowance of 25 cents a day.

Ella immediately whether she could give up her allowance and not do chores.

So I had to restate the plan a bit. Chore time is now mandatory, and they only get their allowance if they did their chores without complaining or arguing with me or each other.

I have worked very hard to make sure that their assigned chore time tasks can be done in 30 minutes or less. They've had to do things like clean their room or their brother's room (only when they've been the one to mess it up), straighten the living room, empty the dishwasher and put up the dirty dishes, or sweep the floors.

It hasn't been going well at all.

We've had tears and fights. I've withheld allowance, which doesn't affect them at all, and I've threatened to take away going to art camp in the afternoon. I've tried explaining that as part of the family they have to pitch in, but that has no effect. Yesterday I told them that if they didn't clean up I'd empty their room of all toys and only allow them to pick five each to put back. That got them moving.

Last week Ella said she wasn't going to clean her room at all, and I told her that she couldn't come out of her room until it was clean. She said, "Fine, I'll see you tomorrow." I closed her in her room and said I was OK with her staying in her room until the next day. I also informed her that she wouldn't be getting any meals while she was in there. Lily actually turned the tide in that fight, because she didn't want to be locked in the room all day with Ella, and she badgered her into cleaning up.

Afterwards Ella complained that they had been in their room for three hours. I pointed out that if she and Lily had just cleaned up like I had asked, they would have been done in 30 minutes and that it was their own dang fault that they had lost 2 1/2 hours of play time.

Right now, they're supposed to cleaning up, but they're not. I'm tired of this fight every day and of trying to come up with new carrots and sticks, but I'm not willing to let them get away with not doing chores.

Anyone have any suggestions? I'm at my wit's end.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Just keep knitting, knitting, knitting

I've been knitting up a storm lately. I think seeing the Yarn Harlot and Franklin inspired me. As a result of all my knitting, I've finished quite a few things, which is immensely satisfying.

I started this sweater back in September, back when I was still pregnant with Elizabeth. My goal at the time was to knit something that could do for a boy or a girl, but once teeny little Elizabeth arrived, I decided the sweater looked too boyish. So it got shoved away in the knitting shelf, where it languished until two weeks ago when I pulled it out and finished it up. While the body of the sweater will probably fit Elizabeth this winter, I cast off too tight on the neck, and I can't get it on her. I'll be sending it along to a friend who just had a boy baby and who lives in a colder climate. Peruvian wool might a bit much for Austin winters.

Here's Elizabeth with it. I wanted to put it next to her to show how big it was, but she immediately grabbed it and put the sweater in her mouth. Sigh.

These are a "pair and a spare" baby socks I knit for a friend who also just had a boy baby. The yarn is Ty-Dy, and the colorway is . . . a mystery. I lost the ball band. Heck. I love that you can see the progression of the colors through the three socks. That's an iPhone with them for comparison.

I lurve these socks. They're Mini Mochi, colorway Strawberry. I made them from the remnants of the yarn I used for the socks below. I found the pattern on Ravelry - High Energy Baby Socks - and it was a bit fiddly for me. Picking up a picot trim on 34 tiny stitches was a bitch to do, but I like how they turned out. These are for a friend who is due with a girl baby next month.

I knit these socks in world-record time - two weeks and 3 hours exactly. The Mini Mochi is just the nicest yarn to work with. I loved watching the color transitions. My LYS sent out an e-mail on Wednesday that they had a new shipment of Mini Mochi, and I raced over there to grab some, because I know how fast it sells out. I think that yarn just got bumped to the top of my project queue.
Currently, I have two other projects on the needle - a pair of socks out of some cool yarn my mom got at Stitches South, and an adorable little knit dress for Elizabeth. The dress is my most ambitious project to date. I'm crossing my fingers that I can actually pull it off.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Climb on*

Ella went to the Texas/Louisiana Regional Climbing Championships this past weekend, which was held in the hot spot of Harker Heights, about an hour north of Austin. Prelims were on Saturday, and we had no expectation that she'd make finals on Sunday. After all, she was the youngest climber there, and this is her first year climbing on the team.

Turns out we shouldn't have underestimated her. The top 10 in each event advanced to finals; Ella placed 9th in sport climbing and 4th in speed climbing. Holy cow.

She and B had to get up before dawn to be back in Harker Heights in time for her to check in at the comp at 7:30. If we had known she'd qualify, we might have looked into having them spend the night at a hotel or something.

This competition served as the qualifiers for Nationals, which are in mid-July in Sandy, Utah. Again, we didn't have any expectation that Ella would qualify - she's only 8, and this is her first year climbing.

And again, we shouldn't have underestimated Ella. She got an invitation to Nationals in speed climbing. A second round of invites will be issued tomorrow, based on how many declined the first round, and she may get an invite for sport climbing.

In the meantime, we're figuring out how to get B and Ella to Utah in a few weeks. This trip wasn't exactly in our summer budget. B's current plan is to make a real trip of it with the two big girls. He'd like to drive out, camping in state and national parks along the way and stopping Sante Fe to visit his uncle. I'm rearranging summer camps and checking on plane cheap plane flights just in case B gets over this case of lunacy.

B and I are beyond proud of Ella. She handled the stress of the competition like a pro, and she was more excited about getting ribbons, free stickers, two climbing magazines, and a calendar with lots of girl climbers on it than she was about anything else. We're hoping she can hold on to that enthusiasm for as long as possible before she starts getting worked up about how many points she scores and whom she beats.

Right now she doesn't really get how big a deal making it to Nationals is. She's just thrilled she gets to go on a trip with Daddy and climb in another competition. And that's how we want it to stay.

Here she is climbing on Saturday. She's the one in the green shirt. And to give some perspective - this was taken from a second floor balcony at the climbing center. The wall topped out at 40 feet.

*I learned this weekend that "climb on" is an official climbing term. When a climber hooks into the rope, she says to her partner, "belay on" to indicate that she's ready to start. The belayer then says, "climb on" to let the climber know he's ready.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The knitting groupy

Elizabeth is continuing in her quest to be photographed with famous knitters. First it was the Yarn Harlot two weeks ago. And Saturday it was Franklin, who was in town to teach a class and celebrate World Wide Knit in Public Day.

We got to the Knitting Nest late in the day due to Ella's rock climbing competition in the morning (more on that tomorrow), but KIP was still in full swing. Franklin was sitting at a table with other knitters, chatting and knitting away. He gladly held Elizabeth and posed for pictures with her -he couldn't have been more charming. Elizabeth was fascinated with his beard.

Knittergran and I hung out and knit for as long as Elizabeth's patience lasted, which was about an hour. We also both scored skeins of Franklin's Panopticon yarn, which is beautiful. We also got signed knitting bags, and I got a book signed for Barb.

But now I think I'm out of famous knitters to take pictures of Elizabeth with. Does anyone know of any others I can stalk?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Knitting away

My mom, also known as Knittergran, arrived on Monday, and she and I immediately pulled out our various project bags and had a show and tell. She also brought me two new skeins of yarn - a bright Arucania sock yarn and a New Zealand yarn that has possum hair in it. My stash has grown exponentially in the two years since I started back to knitting.

The girls also pulled out their little knitting bags and joined in on the fun. B walked through at one point and chuckled at the sight of all four of us knitting together. Later he said that it did his heart good to see that.

The girls are much more into free-form knitting. They knit lots of "scarves" and "lovies" and rarely end up with the same number of stitches with which they started. But they have fun and are learning as they go.

Mom taught them both the simple chain crochet stitch, and they've both taken to crocheting. I think offers them more instant gratification. Now all the adults are wearing bracelets that the girls have crocheted for them. It's beyond cute.

Today is World Wide Knit in Public Day, so mom and I will be knitting in public at Ella's rock climbing competition this afternoon. We'll also be heading to the Knitting Nest after the competition to meet the famous Franklin. I'm going to see if I can get him to take a picture with Elizabeth, so that I can add to her collection of pictures with famous knitters.

So, all you knitters, get out there and knit today!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Blind as a bat

I have worn glasses since I was 16. I'm fairly blind without them, and I feel naked without them. They are as much a part of my face as my nose.

Last night I noticed that my frames were a little off kilter, which happens every once in a while, so I pulled my glasses off to see what was going on. I also noticed that the lenses had little Elizabeth-sized finger prints, so I started cleaning them on my shirt. And snapped them in half.

I screamed as though I'd hurt myself, which scared B.

Fortunately, it's a clean break right on the nose piece. I'm hoping B, who is the zen master of super glue, can repair them so that I can see well enough to get to the eye doctor and get a new prescription and new glasses.

Of course, this had to happen on the day I had four new tires and two new brake pads put on the car. It never rains but it pours.

I posted a comment on Facebook this morning about being blind, and a friend sent me a link to this glasses place that sells glasses for cheap. Her husband has gotten two pairs from there and has been pleased with them. So I'll be giving them a try.

Ah, B just handed me my glasses. I have to be very, very careful lest they break again, and they're a bit skewed. But at least I can function again.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Gran, hey Gran

My mom, aka Knittergran, arrived yesterday for an extended visit. (My dad arrives on Thursday.) Our neighbors are on a trip, and my mom and dad are house sitting for them. So we get the benefit of having my parents here for a visit, but without having them in our house. It's not that we don't love having them visit, because we do, but our house is too small for two extra people.

Anyway, the big girls are beyond thrilled to have Gran here as a captive audience. From the moment Gran got in the car, she's been bombarded with "Gran, watch this!" and "Gran, do you know what?"

Once we got home things escalated even more. All poor Gran wanted to do was sit and relax and unwind from her trip, but the girls wanted to show her artwork and read her stories and drag her into their room.

The first thing the girls asked when they got up this morning was, "When is Gran going to wake up?" It's a good thing she's sleeping next door, otherwise she would have had two girls charging into the room to roust her out of bed.

Campbell is still a little unsure about who this Gran person is exactly, but he's decided that anyone who brings him a new Percy engine AND M&Ms must be ok. Elizabeth is just happy to have someone else to hold her and play with her.

I'm looking forward to having some extra sets of hands to help. Maybe I'll get something done around here. Or not.

Sunday, June 07, 2009


For the past 12 years, I've been involved in the Danskin Women's Triathlon here in Austin. The first two years I was a plain old volunteer. The next year, I joined the organizing committee and spent five years as a committee member. Then my dream came true, and I was offered a position as paid staff. I was still doing all the same work, but I was getting paid for it. I did that for five years.

But this spring, as things started rolling for this year's race, I decided that I needed to exercise some restraint and show some sanity by not being involved. I just couldn't take on one more thing in my life. So I sent the two race directors an e-mail telling them of my decision. I also wrote about how proud I was of the race and the work I've done on it.

The first year I was on the committee, 1999, we held the race out at a little park on Lake Travis, and we had 800 women. Three years later, the race moved to Decker Lake, east of town, and we were able to expand exponentially. This year's race has almost 3,000 women participating. It has become a premiere triathlon.

My favorite thing about the race, though, is how there are women of all shapes and sizes and athletic abilities out there. Many participants are first-time triathletes, and many have never done anything like this in their lives.The air is charged with positive energy and excitement. I get inspired by the women and their stories.

As race weekend got closer, I started to regret my decision to not be involved a little. I know there was no way I could have handled any extra work, but I missed being part of the event. So Friday afternoon I went out to the race site just to say hi. And this morning I took the girls out to the race. In all the years I've worked on the event, they've never actually seen the race.

I'm so glad I took them out there. The finish line coordinator, who has worked on the race for about as long as I have, let Ella and Lily hand out water bottles to the finishers, which they loved. I got a bit misty watching them with their big smiles, handing out water and high fives to the women as they came across the finish. Ella is now asking how old she has to be before she can do a triathlon.

As much as I miss working on the race, it was really a nice morning. I swanned in at 8:00, long after the race had started, said hi to friends, watched some of the race, hung out at the finish in the shade of the medical tent, and left before the heat kicked in.

Being there, though, reinforced my decision to work the race again next year. Because my life will be so much calmer then.

Monday, June 01, 2009

An Update

Thank you to everyone who commented and e-mailed about Mollie-dog. Your words were very helpful to me.

The latest report is that Mollie-dog has settled in at her new home without a problem. B's dad's house has tile throughout, so Mollie-dog is enjoying sleeping on the cold tile during the heat of the day. His house is also out in the middle of nowhere, and there are deer and raccoons and all sorts of other creatures for Mollie-dog to sniff around after.

I think she'll be enjoying her retirement years.

We're still adjusting. It seems strange not to hear her collar jingling or her nails ticking on the floor. The girls are handing things well. We haven't had too many bouts of tears, but we have had requests for a visit. We'll make that happen in the next week or so.

In the meantime, Grey Kitty, the stray who adopted us three years ago and who lives on our front porch, is getting lots of extra love, which she's not sure she appreciates.